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S. H. BUTCHER, Esq., LL.D. 














The text which has been followed in the present 
Translation is that of Jahn (Bonn, 1867), revised by 
Vahlen, and republished in 1884. In several in- 
stances it has been found necessary to diverge from 
Vahlen' s readings, such divergencies being duly 
pointed out in the Notes. 

One word as to the aim and scope of the present 
Translation. My object throughout has been to 
make Longinus speak in English, to preserve, as far 
as lay in my power, the noble fire and lofty tone of 
the original. How to effect this, without being 
betrayed into a loose paraphrase, was an exceedingly 
difficult problem. The style of Longinus is in a high 
degree original, occasionally running into strange 
eccentricities of language ; and no one who has not 
made the attempt can realise the difficulty of giving 
anything like an adequate version of the more elabor- 
ate passages. These considerations I submit to those 
to whom I may seem at first sight to have handled 
my text too freely. 


My best thanks are due to Dr. Butcher, Professor 
of Greek in the University of Edinburgh, who 
from first to last has shown a lively interest in the 
present undertaking which I can never sufficiently 
acknowledge. He has read the Translation through- 
out, and acting on his suggestions I have been able 
in numerous instances to bring my version into a 
closer conformity with the original. 

I have also to acknowledge the kindness of the 
distinguished writer who has contributed the Intro- 
duction, and who, in spite of the heavy demands on 
his time, has lent his powerful support to help on 
the work of one who was personally unknown to 

In conclusion, I may be allowed to express a hope 
that the present attempt may contribute something 
to reawaken an interest in an unjustly neglected 


The Treatise on the Sublime may be divided into six Parts, 
as follows : — 

I. — cc. i, ii. The Work of Caecilius. Definition of the 
Sublime. Whether Sublimity falls within the rules of Art. 

II. — cc. iii-v. [The beginning lost.] Vices of Style 
opposed to the Sublime : Affectation, Bombast, False Senti- 
ment, Frigid Conceits. The cause of such defects. 

III. — cc. vi, vii. The true Sublime, what it is, and how 

IV. — cc. viii-xl. Five Sources of the Sublime (how Sub- 
limity is related to Passion, c. viii, §§ 2-4). 

(i.) Grandeur of Thought, cc. ix-xv. 

a. As the natural outcome of nobility of soul. 

Examples (c. ix). 

b. Choice of the most striking circumstances. 
» Sappho's Ode (c. x). 

c. Amplification. Plato compared with Demos- 

thenes, Demosthenes with Cicero (cc. xi-xiii). 

d. Imitation (cc. xiii, xiv). 

e. Imagery (c. xv). 


(ii.) Power of moving the Passions (omitted here, be- 
cause dealt with in a separate work). 

(iii.) Figures of Speech (cc. xvi-xxix). 

a. The Figure of Adjuration (c. xvi). The Art to 

conceal Art (c. xvii). 

b. Rhetorical Question (c. xviii). 

c. Asyndeton (c. xix-xxi). 

d. Hyperbaton (c. xxii). 

e. Changes of Number, Person, Tense, etc. (cc. 

/. Periphrasis (cc. xxviii, xxix). 

(iv.) Graceful Expression (cc. xxx-xxxii and xxxvii, 
xx xviii). 

a. Choice of Words (e. xxx). 

b. Ornaments of Style (cc. xxxi, xxxii and xxxvii, 


(a) On the use of Familiar Words (c. xxxi). 

(/?) Metaphors ; accumulated ; extract from the 
Timaeus ; abuse of Metaphors ; certain 
tasteless conceits blamed in Plato (c. xxxii). 
[Hence arises a digression (cc. xxxiii- 
xxxvi) on the spirit in which we should 
judge of the faults of great authors. Demos- 
thenes compared with Hyperides, Lysias 
with Plato. Sublimity, however far from 
faultless, to be always preferred to a tame 

(y) Comparisons and Similes [lost] (c. xxxvii). 

(8) Hyperbole (c. xxxviii). 

' (v.) Dignity and Elevation of Structure (cc. xxxix, xl). 

a. Modulation of Syllables (c. xxxix). 

b. Composition (c. xl). 


V.— cc. xli-xliii. Vices of Style destructive to Sublimity, 
(i.) Abuse of Rhythm ^ 

(ii.) Broken and Jerky Clauses V(cc. xli, xlii). 
(iii.) Undue Prolixity J 

(iv.) Improper Use of Familiar Words. Anti-climax. 
Example from Theopompus (c. xliii). 

VI. — Why this age is so barren of great authors — 
whether the cause is to be sought in a despotic form of 
government, or, as Longinus rather thinks, in the prevailing 
corruption of manners, and in the sordid and paltry views of 
life which almost universally prevail (c. xliv). 



Boileau, in his introduction to his version of the 
ancient Treatise on the Sublime, says that he is 
making no valueless present to his age. Not value- 
less, to a generation which talks much about style 
and method in literature, should be this new render- 
ing of the noble fragment, long attributed to 
Longinus, the Greek tutor and political adviser of 
Zenobia. There is, indeed, a modern English version 
by Spurden, 1 but that is now rare, and seldom 
comes into the market. Eare, too, is Vaucher's 
critical essay (1854), which is unlucky, as the 
French and English books both contain valuable 
disquisitions on the age of the author of the Treatise. 
This excellent work has had curious fortunes. It 
is never quoted nor referred to by any extant 
classical writer, and, among the many books attri- 
buted by Suidas to Longinus, it is not mentioned. 

1 Longmans, London, 1836. 


Decidedly the old world has left no more noble 
relic of criticism. Yet the date of the book is 
obscure, and it did not come into the hands of the 
learned in modern Europe till Eobertelli and 
Manutius each published editions in 1544. From 
that time the Treatise has often been printed, edited, 
translated ; but opinion still floats undecided about 
its origin and period. Does it belong to the age of 
Augustus, or to the age of Aurelian ? Is the 
author the historical Longinus — the friend of 
Plotinus, the tutor of Porphyry, the victim of 
Aurelian,— or have we here a work by an unknown 
hand more than two centuries earlier ? Manuscripts 
and traditions are here of little service. The oldest 
manuscript, that of Paris, is regarded as the parent 
of the rest. It is a small quarto of 414 pages, 
whereof 335 are occupied by the "Problems" of 
Aristotle. Several leaves have been lost, hence the 
fragmentary character of the essay. The Paris MS. 
has an index, first mentioning the "Problems," and 
that is, " The work of Dionysius, or of Longinus, 
about the Sublime." 

On this showing the transcriber of the MS. 
considered its authorship dubious. Supposing that 
the author was Dionysius, which of the many 
writers of that name was he ? Again, if he was 
Longinus, how far does his work tally with the 


characteristics ascribed to that late critic, and 
peculiar to his age ? 

About this Longinus, while much is written, 
little is certainly known. Was he a descendant of 
a freedman of one of the Cassii Longini, or of an 
eastern family with a mixture of Greek and Eoman 
blood ? The author of the Treatise avows himself 
a Greek, and apologises, as a Greek, for attempting 
an estimate of Cicero. Longinus himself was the 
nephew and heir of Fronto, a Syrian rhetorician of 
Emesa. Whether Longinus was born there or not, and 
when he was born, are things uncertain. Porphyry, 
born in 233 A.D., was his pupil : granting that 
Longinus was twenty years Porphyry's senior, he 
must have come into the world about 213 a.d. 
He travelled much, studied in many cities, and was 
the friend of the mystic Neoplatonists, Plotinus and 
Ammonius. The former called him " a philologist, 
not a philosopher." Porphyry shows us Longinus 
at a supper where the plagiarisms of Greek writers 
are discussed — a topic dear to trivial or spiteful 
mediocrity. He is best known by his death. As 
the Greek secretary of Zenobia he inspired a haughty 
answer from the queen to Aurelian, who therefore 
put him to death. Many rhetorical and philosophic 
treatises are ascribed to him, whereof only fragments 
survive. Did he write the Treatise on the Sublime ? 
Modern students prefer to believe that the famous 


essay Is, if not by Plutarch, as some hold, at least 
by some author of his age, the age of the early 

The arguments for depriving Longinus, Zenobia's 
tutor, of the credit of the Treatise lie on the surface, 
and may be briefly stated. He addresses his work 
as a letter to a friend, probably a Eoman pupil, 
Terentianus, with whom he has been reading a 
work on the Sublime by Caecilius. Now Caecilius, 
a voluminous critic, certainly lived not later than 
Plutarch, who speaks of him with a sneer. It is un- 
likely then that an author, two centuries later, would 
make the old book of Caecilius the starting-point of 
his own. He would probably have selected some 
recent or even contemporary rhetorician. Once 
more, the writer of the Treatise of the Sublime 
quotes no authors later than the Augustan period. 
Had he lived as late as the historical Longinus he 
would surely have sought examples of bad style, if 
not of good, from the works of the Silver Age. 
Perhaps he would hardly have resisted the malicious 
pleasure of censuring the failures among whom he 
lived. On the other hand, if he cites no late 
author, no classical author cites him, in spite of the 
excellence of his book. But we can hardly draw 
the inference that he was of late date from this 
purely negative evidence. 

Again, he describes, in a very interesting and 


earnest manner, the characteristics of his own 
period (Translation, pp. 82-86). Why, he is asked, 
has genius become so rare ? There are many clever 
men, but scarce any highly exalted and wide-reach- 
ing genius. Has eloquence died with liberty ? 
" We have learned the lesson of a benignant 
despotism, and have never tasted freedom." The 
author answers that it is easy and characteristic of 
men to blame the present times. Genius may have 
been corrupted, not by a world-wide peace, but by 
love of gain and pleasure, passions so strong that 
" I fear, for such men as we are it is better to serve 
than to be free. If our appetites were let loose 
altogether against our neighbours, they would be 
like wild beasts uncaged, and bring a deluge of 
calamity on the whole civilised world." Melancholy 
words, and appropriate to our own age, when clever- 
ness is almost universal, and genius rare indeed, 
and the choice between liberty and servitude hard 
to make, were the choice within our power. 

But these words assuredly apply closely to the 
peaceful period of Augustus, when Virgil and 
Horace "praising their tyrant sang," not to the 
confused age of the historical Longinus. Much has 
been said of the allusion to "the Lawgiver of the 
Jews " as " no ordinary person," but that remark 
might have been made by a heathen acquainted 
with the Septuagint, at either of the disputed dates. 



On the other hand, our author (Section XIII) quotes 
the critical ideas of "Ammonius and his school/' 
as to the debt of Plato to Homer. Now the 
historical Longinus was a friend of the Neoplatonist 
teacher (not writer), Ammonius Saccas. If we 
could be sure that the Ammonius of the Treatise 
was this Ammonius, the question would be settled 
in favour of the late date. Our author would be 
that Longinus who inspired Zenobia to resist 
Aurelian, and who perished under his revenge. 
But Ammonius is not a very uncommon name, and 
we have no reason to suppose that the Neoplatonist 
Ammonius busied himself with the literary criticism 
of Homer and Plato. There was, among others, 
an Egyptian Ammonius, the tutor of Plutarch. 

These are the mass of the arguments on both 
sides. M. Egger sums them up thus : " After 
carefully examining the tradition of the MSS., and 
the one very late testimony in favour of Longinus, 
I hesitated for long as to the date of this precious 
work. In 1854 M. Vaucher 1 inclined me to 
believe that Plutarch was the author. 2 All seems 
to concur towards the opinion that, if not Plutarch, 
at least one of his contemporaries wrote the most 

1 Etude Critique sur la traite du Sublime et Us ecrits de 
Longin. Geneva. 

2 See also M. Naudet, Journal des Savants, Mars 1838, and 
M. Egger, in the same Journal, May 1884. 


original Greek essay in its kind since the Rhetoric 
and Poetic of Aristotle." 1 

We may, on the whole, agree that the nobility 
of the author's thought, his habit of quoting nothing 
more recent than the Augustan age, and his 
description of his own time, which seems so per- 
tinent to that epoch, mark him as its child rather 
than as a great critic lost among the somnia 
Pythagorea of the Neoplatonists. On the other 
hand, if the author be a man of high heart and 
courage, as he seems, so was that martyr of inde- 
pendence, Longinus. ISTot without scruple, then, 
can we deprive Zenobia's tutor of the glory attached 
so long to his name. 

Whatever its date, and whoever its author may 
be, the Treatise is fragmentary. The lost parts may 
very probably contain the secret of its period and 
authorship. The writer, at the request of his 
friend, Terentianus, and dissatisfied with the essay 
of Caecilius, sets about examining the nature of the 
Sublime in poetry and oratory. To the latter he 
assigns, as is natural, much more literary importance 
than we do, in an age when there is so little 
oratory of literary merit, and so much popular rant. 
The subject of sublimity must naturally have 
attracted a writer whose own moral nature was 

1 Egger, Histoire de la Critique chez les Grecs, p. 426. Paris, 


pure and lofty, who was inclined to discover in 
moral qualities the true foundation of the highest 
literary merit. Even in his opening words he 
strikes the keynote of his own disposition, where 
he approves the saying that " the points in which 
we resemble the divine nature are benevolence and 
love of truth." Earlier or later born, he must have 
lived in the midst of literary activity, curious, 
eager, occupied with petty questions and petty 
quarrels, concerned, as men in the best times are 
not very greatly concerned, with questions of 
technique and detail. Cut off from politics, people 
found in composition a field for their activity. We 
can readily fancy what literature becomes when not 
only its born children, but the minor busybodies whose 
natural place is politics, excluded from these, pour 
into the study of letters. Love of notoriety, vague 
activity, fantastic indolence, we may be sure, were 
working their will in the sacred close of the Muses. 
There were literary sets, jealousies, recitations of 
new poems ; there was a world of amateurs, if there 
were no papers and paragraphs. To this world the 
author speaks like a voice from the older and graver 
age of Greece. If he lived late, we can imagine 
that he did not quote contemporaries, not because 
he did not know them, but because he estimated them 
correctly. He may have suffered, as we suffer, from 
critics who, of all the world's literature, know only 


" the last thing out/' and who take that as a standard 
for the past, to them unfamiliar, and for the hidden 
future. As we are told that excellence is not of 
the great past, hut of the present, not in the classical 
masters, but in modern Muscovites, Portuguese, or 
American young women, so the author of the Treatise 
may have been troubled by Asiatic eloquence, now 
long forgotten, by names of which not a shadow 
survives. He, on the other hand, has a right to be 
heard because he has practised a long familiarity 
with what is old and good. His mind has ever 
been in contact with masterpieces, as the mind of a 
critic should be, as the mind of a reviewer seldom 
is, for the reviewer has to hurry up and down 
inspecting new literary adventurers. Not- among 
their experiments will he find a touchstone of 
excellence, a test of greatness, and that test will 
seldom be applied to contemporary performances. 
What is the test, after all, of the Sublime, by which 
our author means the truly great, the best and 
most passionate thoughts, nature's high and rare 
inspirations, expressed in the best chosen words ? 
He replies that "a just judgment of style is the 
final fruit of long experience." "Much has he 
travelled in the realms of gold." 

The word "style" has become a weariness to think 
upon ; so much is said, so much is printed about 
the art of expression, about methods, tricks, and 


turns ; so many people, without any long experience, 
set up to be judges of style, on the strength of 
having admired two or three modern and often 
rather fantastic writers. About our author, how- 
ever, we know that his experience has been long, 
and of the best, that he does not speak from a hasty 
acquaintance with a few contemporary prdcieiwc and 
prdcieuses. The bad writing of his time he traces, 
as much of our own may be traced, to " the pursuit 
of novelty in thought,'' or rather in expression. " It 
is this that has turned the brain of nearly all our 
learned world to-day." " Gardons nous d'ecrire trop 
bien," he might have said, "c'est la pire maniere 
qu'il y'ait d'ecrire." l 

The Sublime, with which he concerns himself, is 
"a certain loftiness and excellence of language," 
which " takes the reader out of himself. . . . The 
Sublime, acting with an imperious and irresistible 
force, sways every reader whether he will or no." 
In its own sphere the Sublime does what " natural 
magic " does in the poetical rendering of nature, and 
perhaps in the same scarcely-to-be-analysed fashion. 
Whether this art can be taught or not is a question 
which the author treats with modesty. Then, as 
now, people were denying (and not unjustly) that 
this art can be taught by rule. The author does 
not go so far as to say that Criticism, " unlike 

1 M. Anatole France. 


Justice, does little evil, and little good ; that is, if 
to entertain for a moment delicate and curious minds 
is to do little good." He does not rate his business 
so low as that. He admits that the inspiration 
comes from genius, from nature. But " an author 
can only learn from art when he is to abandon him- 
self to the direction of his genius." ISFature must 
" burst out with a kind of fine madness and divine 
inspiration." The madness must be fine. How 
can art aid it to this end ? By knowledge of, by 
sympathy and emulation with, " the great poets and 
prose writers of the past." By these we may be 
inspired, as the Pythoness by Apollo. From the 
genius of the past " an effluence breathes upon us." 
The writer is not to imitate, but to keep before him 
the perfection of what has been done by the greatest 
poets. He is to look on them as beacons ; he is to 
keep them as exemplars or ideals. He is to place 
them as judges of his work. " How would Homer, 
how would Demosthenes, have been affected by 
what I have written ? " This is practical counsel, 
and even the most florid modern author, after 
polishing a paragraph, may tear it up when he has 
asked himself, " What would Addison have said 
about this eloquence of mine, or Sainte Beuve, or 
Mr. Matthew Arnold ? " In this way what we call 
inspiration, that is the performance of the heated 
mind, perhaps working at its best, perhaps over- 


straining itself, and overstating its idea, might really 
be regulated. But they are few who consider so 
closely, fewer perhaps they who have the heart to 
cut out their own fine or refined things. Again, 
our author suggests another criterion. We are, as 
in Lamb's phrase, " to write for antiquity,' 5 with the 
souls of poets dead and gone for our judges. But 
we are also to write for the future, asking with what 
feelings posterity will read us- — if it reads us at all 
This is a good discipline. We know by practice 
what will hit some contemporary tastes ; we know 
the measure of smartness, say, or the delicate 
flippancy, or the sentence with "a- dying fall." But 
one should also know that these are fancies of the 
hour— —these and the touch of archaism, and the 
spinster-like and artificial precision, which seem to 
be points in some styles of the moment. Such 
reflections as our author bids us make, with a little 
self-respect added, may render our work less popular 
and effective, and certainly are not likely to carry 
it down to remote posterity. But all such reflec- 
tions, and action in accordance with what they 
teach, are elements of literary self-respect. It is 
hard to be conscientious, especially hard for him 
who writes much, and of necessity, and for bread. 
But conscience is never to be obeyed with ease, 
though the ease grows with the obedience. The 
book attributed to Longinus will not have missed 


its mark if it reminds us that, in literature at least, 
for conscience there is yet a place, possibly even a 
reward, though that is unessential. By virtue of 
reasonings like these, and by insisting that nobility 
of style is, as it were, the bloom on nobility of soul, 
the Treatise on the Sublime becomes a tonic work, 
wholesome to be read by young authors and old. 
" It is natural in us to feel our souls lifted up by 
the true Sublime, and, conceiving a sort of generous 
exultation, to be filled with joy and pride, as though 
we had ourselves originated the ideas which we 
read." Here speaks his natural disinterested great- 
ness ; the author himself is here sublime, and teaches 
by example as well as precept, for few things are 
purer than a pure and ardent admiration. The 
critic is even confident enough to expect to find his 
own nobility in others, believing that what is truly 
Sublime " will always please, and please all readers." 
And in this universal acceptance by the populace 
and the literate, by critics and creators, by young 
and old, he finds the true external canon of sub- 
limity. The verdict lies not with contemporaries, 
but with the large public, not with the little set of 
dilettanti, but must be spoken by all. Such verdicts 
assign the crown to Shakespeare and Moliere, to 
Homer and Cervantes ; we should not clamorously 
anticipate this favourable judgment for Bryant or 
Emerson, nor for the greatest of our own content- 


poraries. Boileau so much misconceived these lofty 
ideas that he regarded " Longinus's " judgment as 
solely that " of good sense/' and held that, in his 
time, " nothing was good or bad till he had spoken." 
But there is far more than good sense, there is 
high poetic imagination and moral greatness, in the 
criticism of our author, who certainly would have 
rejected Boileau's compliment when he selects 
Longinus as a literary dictator. 

Indeed we almost grudge our author's choice of 
a subject. He who wrote that " it was not in 
nature's plan for us, her children, to be base and 
ignoble ; no, she brought us into life as into some 
great field of contest," should have had another 
field of contest than literary criticism. It is almost 
a pity that we have to doubt the tradition, according 
to which our author was Longinus, and, being but a 
rhetorician, greatly dared and bravely died. Taking 
literature for his theme, he wanders away into 
grammar, into considerations of tropes and figures, 
plurals and singulars, trumpery mechanical pedantries, 
as we think now, to whom grammar is no longer, as 
of old, " a new invented game." Moreover, he has 
to give examples of the faults opposed to sublimity, 
he has to dive into and search the bathos, to dally 
over examples of the bombastic, the over-wrought, 
the puerile. These faults are not the sins of " minds 
generous and aspiring," and we have them with us 


always. The additions to Boileau's preface (Paris, 
1772) contain abundance of examples of faults 
from Yoiture, Mascaron, Bossuet, selected by M. de 
St. Marc, who no doubt found abundance of enter- 
tainment in the chastising of these obvious affecta- 
tions. It hardly seems the proper work for an 
author like him who wrote the Treatise on the 
Sublime. But it is tempting, even now, to give 
contemporary instances of skill in the Art of Sink- 
ing — modern cases of bombast, triviality, false 
rhetoric. " Speaking generally, it would seem that 
bombast is one of the hardest things to avoid in 
writing," says an author who himself avoids it so 
well. Bombast is the voice of sham passion, the 
shadow of an insincere attitude. " Even the wretched 
phantom who still bore the imperial title stooped to 
pay this ignominious blackmail," cries bombast in 
Macaulay's Lord Olive. The picture of a phantom 
who is not only a phantom but wretched, stooping 
to pay blackmail which is not only blackmail but 
ignominious, may divert the reader and remind him 
that the faults of the past are the faults of the 
present. Again, "The desolate islands along the sea- 
coast, overgrown by noxious vegetation, and swarming 
with deer and tigers " — do, what does any one sup- 
pose, perform what forlorn part in the economy of 
the world ? Why, they " supply the cultivated dis- 
tricts with abundance of salt." It is as comic as — 


" And thou Dalhousie, thou great God of War, 
Lieutenant- Colonel to the Earl of Mar." 

Bombast " transcends the Sublime/ 5 and falls on 
the other side. Our author gives more examples of 
puerility. " Slips of this sort are made by those 
who, aiming at brilliancy, polish, and especially 
attractiveness, are landed in paltriness and silly 
affectation." Some modern instances we had chosen; 
the field of choice is large and richly fertile in those 
blossoms. But the reader may be left to twine 
a garland of them for himself; to select from con- 
temporaries were invidious, and might provoke 
retaliation. When our author censures Timaeus 
for saying that Alexander took less time to 
annex Asia than Iso crates spent in writing an 
oration, to bid the Greeks attack Persia, we know 
what he would have thought of Macaulay's anti- 
thesis. He blames Xenophon for a poor pun, and 
Plato, less justly, for mere figurative badinage. It 
would be an easy task to ransack contemporaries, 
even great contemporaries, for similar failings, for 
pomposity, for the florid, for sentences like processions 
of intoxicated torch-bearers, for pedantic display of 
cheap erudition, for misplaced flippancy, for nice 
derangement of epitaphs wherein no adjective is 
used which is appropriate. With a library of 
cultivated American novelists and uncultivated 
English romancers at hand, with our own voluminous 


essays, and the essays and histories and "art 
criticisms " of our neighbours to draw from, no 
student need lack examples of what is wrong. He 
who writes, reflecting on his own innumerable sins, 
can but beat his breast, cry Mea Culpa, and resist 
the temptation to beat the breasts of his coevals. 
There are not many authors, there have never been 
many, who did not need to turn over the treatise 
of the Sublime by day and night. 1 

As a literary critic of Homer our author is most 
interesting even in his errors. He compares the 
poet of the Odyssey to the sunset : the Iliad is 
noonday work, the Odyssey is touched with the glow 
of evening — the softness and the shadows. " Old 
age naturally leans," like childhood, "towards the 
fabulous." The tide has flowed back, and left dim 
bulks of things on the long shadowy sands. Yet 
he makes an exception, oddly enough, in favour of 
the story of the Cyclops, which really is the most 
fabulous and crude of the fairy tales in the first and 
greatest of romances. The Slaying of the Wooers, 

1 The examples of bombast used to be drawn as late as 
Spurden's translation (1836), from Lee, from Troilus and Cressida, 
and The Taming of the Shrew. Cowley and Crashaw furnished 
instances of conceits ; Waller, Young, and Hayley of frigidity ; 
and Darwin of affectation. 

" What beaux and beauties crowd the gaudy groves, 
And woo and win their vegetable loves " — 

a phrase adopted — "vapid vegetable loves" — by the Laureate in 
"The Talking Oak." 


that admirable fight, worthy of a saga, he thinks 
too improbable, and one of the " trifles into which 
second childhood is apt to be betrayed." He fancies 
that the aged Homer had " lost his power of depict- 
ing the passions " ; in fact, he is hardly a competent 
or sympathetic critic of the Odyssey. Perhaps he 
had lived among Eomans till he lost his sense of 
humour; perhaps he never had any to lose. On 
the other hand, he preserved for us that inestimable 
and not to be translated fragment of Sappho — 
tyaiverai /jloc icr\vos taos Oeotacv. 

It is curious to find him contrasting Apollonius 
Ehodius as faultless, with Homer as great but 
faulty. The " faultlessness " of Apollonius is not 
his merit, for he is often tedious, and he has little 
skill in selection ; moreover, he is deliberately 
antiquarian, if not pedantic. His true merit is in his 
original and, as we think, modern telling of a love 
tale — -pure, passionate,- and tender, the first in 
known literature. Medea is often sublime, and 
always touching. But it is not on these merits 
that our author lingers ; he loves only the highest 
literature, and, though he finds spots on the sun and 
faults in Homer, he condones them as oversights 
passed in the poet's " contempt of little things." 

Such for us to-day are the lessons of Longinus. 
He traces dignity and fire of style to dignity and 
fire of soul. He detects and denounces the very 


faults of which, in each other, all writers are con- 
scious, and which he brings home to ourselves. He 
proclaims the essential merits of conviction, and of 
selection. He sets before us the noblest examples 
of the past, most welcome in a straining age which 
tries already to live in the future. He admonishes 
and he inspires. He knows the "marvellous power 
and enthralling charm of appropriate and striking 
words " without dropping into mere word-tasting. 
"Beautiful words are the very light of thought," 
he says, but does not maunder about the " colour " 
of words, in the style of the decadence. And then 
he "leaves this generation to its fate," and calmly 
turns himself to the work that lies nearest his 

To us he is as much a moral as a literary 
teacher. We admire that Eoman greatness of soul 
in a Greek, and the character of this unknown man, 
who carried the soul of a poet, the heart of a hero 
under the gown of a professor. He was one of 
those whom books cannot debilitate, nor a life of 
study incapacitate for the study of life. 

A. L. 

The treatise of Caecilius on the Sublime, when, as 
you remember, my dear Terentian, we examined it 
together, seemed to us to be beneath the dignity of 
the whole subject, to fail entirely in seizing the 
salient points, and to offer little profit (which should 
be the principal aim of every writer) for the trouble 
of its perusal. There are two things essential to a 
technical treatise : the first is to define the subject ; 
the second (I mean second in order, as it is by 
much the first in importance) to point out how and 
by what methods we may become masters of it 
ourselves. And yet Caecilius, while wasting his 
efforts in a thousand illustrations of the nature of 
the Sublime, as though here we were quite in the 
dark, somehow passes by as immaterial the question 
how we might be able to exalt our own genius to 
a certain degree of progress in sublimity. How- 
ever, perhaps it would be fairer to commend this 
writer's intelligence and zeal in themselves, instead 
of blaming him for his omissions. And since you 



have bidden me also to put together, if only for 
your entertainment, a few notes on the subject of 
the Sublime, let me see if there is anything in my 
speculations which promises advantage to men of 
affairs. In you, dear friend — such is my confidence 
in your abilities, and such the part which becomes 
you — I look for a sympathising and discerning 1 
critic of the several parts of my treatise. For that 
was a just remark of his who pronounced that the 
points in which we resemble the divine nature are 
benevolence and love of truth. 

As I am addressing a person so accomplished in 
literature, I need only state, without enlarging 
further on the matter, that the Sublime, wherever 
it occurs, consists in a certain loftiness and excel- 
lence of language, and that it is by this, and this 
only, that the greatest poets and prose-writers have 
gained eminence, and won themselves a lasting 
place in the Temple of Fame. A lofty passage does 
not convince the reason of the reader, but takes 
him out of himself. That which is admirable ever 
confounds our judgment, and eclipses that which 
is merely reasonable or agreeable. To believe or 
not is usually in our own power; but the Sublime, 
acting with an imperious and irresistible force, 
sways every reader whether he will or no. Skill in 
invention, lucid arrangement and disposition of facts, 

1 Reading (piXocppovearara Kai dXrjdeaTaTa, 


are appreciated not by one passage, or by two, but 
gradually manifest themselves in the general struc- 
ture of a work ; but a sublime thought, if happily 
timed, illumines 1 an entire subject with the vivid- 
ness of a lightning-flash, and exhibits the whole 
power of the orator in a moment of time. Your 
own experience, I am sure, my dearest Terentian, 
would enable you to illustrate these and similar 
points of doctrine. 


The first question which presents itself for 
solution is whether there is any art which can teach 
sublimity or loftiness in writing,. For some hold 
generally that there is mere delusion in attempting 
to reduce such subjects to technical rules. "The 
Sublime," they tell us, " is born in a man, and not 
to be acquired by instruction ; genius is the only 
master who can teach it. The vigorous products of 
nature " (such is their view) " are weakened and in 
every respect debased, when robbed of their flesh 
and blood by frigid technicalities." But I maintain 
that the truth can be shown to stand otherwise in 
this matter. Let us look at the case in this way ; 
Nature in her loftier and more passionate moods, 
while detesting all appearance of restraint, is not 

1 Reading 8i€(pd)TKrev. 


wont to show herself utterly wayward and reckless ; 
and though in all cases the vital informing principle 
is derived from her, yet to determine the right degree 
and the right moment, and to contribute the pre- 
cision of practice and experience, is the peculiar 
province of scientific method. The great passions, 
when left to their own blind and rash impulses 
without the control of reason, are in the same 
danger as a ship let drive at random without ballast. 
Often they need the spur, but sometimes also the 
curb. The remark of Demosthenes with regard to 
human life in general, — that the greatest of all 
blessings is to be fortunate, but next to that and 
equal in importance is to be well advised, — for 
good fortune is utterly ruined by the absence of good 
counsel, — may be applied to literature, if we substi- 
tute genius for fortune, and art for counsel. Then, 
again (and this is the most important point of all), 
a writer can only learn from art when he is to 
abandon himself to the direction of his genius. 1 

These are the considerations which I submit to 
the unfavourable critic of such useful studies. Per- 
haps they may induce him to alter his opinion as 
to the vanity and idleness of our present investiga- 

1 Literally, "But the most important point of all is that the 
actual fact that there are some parts of literature which are in the 
power of natural genius alone, must be learnt from no other source 
than from art." 



. . " And let them check the stove's long 
tongues of fire : 
For if I see one tenant of the hearth, 
I'll thrust within one curling torrent flame, 
And bring that roof in ashes to the ground : 
But now not yet is sung my noble lay." 1 

Such phrases cease to be tragic, and become bur- 
lesque, — I mean phrases like "curling torrent flames" 
and " vomiting to heaven," and representing Boreas 
as a piper, and so on. Such expressions, and such 
images, produce an effect of confusion and obscurity, 
not of energy ; and if each separately be examined 
under the light of criticism, what seemed terrible 
gradually sinks into absurdity. Since then, even 
in tragedy, where the natural dignity of the subject 
makes a swelling diction allowable, we cannot 
pardon a tasteless grandiloquence, how much more 
incongruous must it seem in sober prose ! Hence 
we laugh at those fine words of Gorgias of Leontini, 
such as " Xerxes the Persian Zeus " and " vultures, 
those living tombs," and at certain conceits of 
Callisthenes which are high-flown rather than sub- 
lime, and at some in Cleitarchus more ludicrous 
still — a writer whose frothy style tempts us to 
travesty Sophocles and say, " He blows a little pipe, 

1 Aeschylus in his lost Oreithyia. 


and blows it ill." The same faults may be observed 
in Amphicrates and Hegesias and Matris, who in 
their frequent moments (as they think) of inspira- 
tion, instead of playing the genius are simply play- 
ing the fool. 

Speaking generally, it would seem that bombast 
is one of the hardest things to avoid in writing. 
For all those writers who are ambitious of a lofty 
style, through dread of being convicted of feebleness 
and poverty of language, slide by a natural gradation 
into the opposite extreme. " Who fails in great 
endeavour, nobly fails," is their creed. Now bulk, 
when hollow and affected, is always objectionable, 
whether in material bodies or in writings, and in 
danger of producing on us an impression of little- 
ness : " nothing," it is said, " is drier than a man 
with the dropsy." 

The characteristic, then, of bombast is that it 
transcends the Sublime : but there is another fault 
diametrically opposed to grandeur : this is called 
puerility, and it is the failing of feeble and narrow 
minds, — indeed, the most ignoble of all vices in 
writing. By puerility we mean a pedantic habit of 
mind, which by over -elaboration ends in frigidity. 
Slips of this sort are made by those who, aiming at 
brilliancy, polish, and especially attractiveness, are 
landed in paltriness and silly affectation. Closely 
associated with this is a third sort of vice, in deal- 


ing with the passions, which. Theodoras used to call 
false sentiment, meaning by that an ill-timed and 
empty display of emotion, where no emotion is 
called for, or of greater emotion than the situa- 
tion warrants. Thus we often see an author hurried 
by the tumult of his mind into tedious displays 
of mere personal feeling which has no connection 
with the subject. Yet how justly ridiculous must 
an author appear, whose most violent transports 
leave his readers quite cold ! However, I will 
dismiss this subject, as I intend to devote a 
separate work to the treatment of the pathetic in 


The last of the faults which I mentioned is 
frequently observed in Timaeus — I mean the fault 
of frigidity. In other respects he is an able writer, 
and sometimes not unsuccessful in the loftier style ; 
a man of wide knowledge, and full of ingenuity ; a 
most bitter critic of the failings of others — but un- 
happily blind to his own. In his eagerness to be 
always striking out new thoughts he frequently falls 
into the most childish absurdities. I will only 
instance one or two passages, as most of them have 
been pointed out by Caecilius. Wishing to say 
something very fine about Alexander the Great he 


speaks of him as a man " who annexed the whole of 
Asia in. fewer years than Isocrates spent in writing 
his panegyric oration in which he urges the Greeks 
to make war on Persia." How strange is the com- 
parison of the " great Emathian conqueror " with an 
Athenian rhetorician ! By this mode of reasoning 
it is plain that the Spartans were very inferior to 
Isocrates in courage, since it took them thirty years 
to conquer Messene, while he finished the composi- 
tion of this harangue in ten. Observe, too, his 
language on the Athenians taken in Sicily. " They 
paid the penalty for their impious outrage on 
Hermes in mutilating his statues; and the chief 
agent in their destruction was one who was de- 
scended on his father's side from the injured deity 
— Hermocrates, son of Hermon." I wonder, my 
dearest Terentian, how he omitted to say of the 
tyrant Dionysius that for his impiety towards Zeus 
and Herakles he was deprived of his power by 
Dion and Herakleides. Yet why speak of Timaeus, 
when even men like Xenophon and Plato — the 
very demi-gods of literature — though they had sat 
at the feet of Socrates, sometimes forgot themselves 
in the pursuit of such paltry conceits. The former, 
in his account of the Spartan Polity, has these words : 
" Their voice you would no more hear than if they 
were of marble, their gaze is as immovable as if 
they were cast in bronze; you would deem them 


more modest than the very maidens in their eyes. 1 
To speak of the pupils of the eye as "modest 
maidens " was a piece of absurdity becoming Amphi- 
crates 2 rather than Xenophon. And then what a 
strange delusion to suppose that modesty is always 
without exception expressed in the eye ! whereas it 
is commonly said that there is nothing by which an 
impudent fellow betrays his character so much as 
by the expression of his eyes. Thus Achilles 
addresses Agamemnon in the Iliad as " drunkard, 
with eye of dog." 3 Timaeus, however, with that 5 
want of judgment which characterises plagiarists, 
could not leave to Xenophon the possession of even 
this piece of frigidity. In relating how Agathocles 
carried off his cousin, who was wedded to another 
man, from the festival of the unveiling, he asks, 
" Who could have done such a deed, unless he had 
harlots instead of maidens in his eyes ? " And Plato 6 
himself, elsewhere so supreme a master of style, 
meaning to describe certain recording tablets, says, 
" They shall write, and deposit in the temples 
memorials of cypress wood"; 4 and again, "Then 
concerning walls, Megillus, I give my vote with 
Sparta that we should let them lie asleep within 
the ground, and not awaken them." 5 And Herod- 7 
otus falls pretty much under the same censure, 

1 Xen. de Rep. Laced. 3, 5. 2 C. iii. sect. 2. 

3 II. i. 225. 4 Plat, de Legg. v. 741, C. 5 lb. vi. 778, D. 


when he speaks of beautiful women as " tortures to 
the eye," 1 though here there is some excuse, as 
the speakers in this passage are drunken barbarians. 
Still, even from dramatic motives, such errors in 
taste should not be permitted to deface the pages of 
an immortal work. 


'Now all these glaring improprieties of language 
may be traced to one common root- — the pursuit of 
novelty in thought. It is this that has turned the 
brain of nearly all the learned world of to-day. 
Human blessings and human ills commonly flow 
from the same source : and, to apply this principle 
to literature, those ornaments of style, those sublime 
and delightful images, which contribute to success, 
are the foundation and the origin, not only of excel- 
lence, but also of failure. It is thus with the figures 
called transitions, and hyperboles, and the use of 
plurals for singulars. I shall show presently the 
dangers which they seem to involve. Our next 
task, therefore, must be to propose and to settle the 
question how we may avoid the faults of style 
related to sublimity. 

1 v. 18. 



Our best hope of doing this will be first of all to 
grasp some definite theory and criterion of the true 
Sublime. Nevertheless this is a hard matter; for- 
a just judgment of style is the final fruit of long 
experience ; still, I believe that the way I shall 
indicate will enable us to distinguish between the 
true and false Sublime, so far as it can be done by 


It is proper to observe that in human life nothing 
is truly great which is despised by all elevated minds. 
For example, no man of sense can regard wealth, 
honour, glory, and power, or any of those things 
which are surrounded by a great external parade of 
pomp and circumstance, as the highest blessings, 
seeing that merely to despise such things is a blessing 
of no common order : certainly those who possess 
them are admired much less than those who, having 
the opportunity to acquire them, through greatness 
of soul neglect it. Now let us apply this principle 
to the Sublime in poetry or in prose ; let us ask in 
all cases, is it merely a specious sublimity ? is this 
gorgeous exterior a mere false and clumsy pageant, 


which if laid open will be found to conceal nothing 
but emptiness ? for if so, a noble mind will scorn 

2 instead of admiring it. It is natural to us to feel 
our souls lifted up by the true Sublime, and. con- 
ceiving a sort of generous exultation to be filled 
with joy and pride, as though we had ourselves 

3 originated the ideas which we read. If then any 
work, on being repeatedly submitted to the judgment 
of an acute and cultivated critic, fails to dispose his 
mind to lofty ideas ; if the thoughts which it suggests 
do not extend beyond what is actually expressed ; 
and if, the longer you read it, the less you think of 
it, — -there can be here no true sublimity, when the 
effect is not sustained beyond the mere act of 
perusal. But when a passage is pregnant in sugges- 
tion, when it is hard, nay impossible, to distract the 
attention from it, and when it takes a strong and 
lasting hold on the memory, then we may be sure 

4 that we have lighted on the true Sublime. In 
general we may, regard those words as truly noble 
and sublime which always please and please all 
readers. For when the same book always produces 
the same impression on all who read it, whatever be 
the difference in their pursuits, their manner of life, 
their aspirations, their ages, or their language, such 
a harmony of opposites gives irresistible authority 
to their favourable verdict. 



I shall now proceed to enumerate the five 
principal sources, as we may call them, from which 
almost all sublimity is derived, assuming, of course, 
the preliminary gift on which all these five sources 
depend, namely, command of language. The first 
and the most important is (1) grandeur of thought, 
as I have pointed out elsewhere in my work on 
Xenophon. The second is (2) a vigorous and 
spirited treatment of the passions. These two 
conditions of sublimity depend mainly on natural 
endowments, whereas those which follow derive 
assistance from Art. The third is (3) a certain 
artifice in the employment of figures, which are of 
tw T o kinds, figures of thought and figures of speech. 
The fourth is (4) dignified expression, which is sub- 
divided into (a) the proper choice of words, and (&) 
the use of metaphors and other ornaments of diction. 
The fifth cause of sublimity, which embraces all 
those preceding, is (5) majesty and elevation of 
structure. Let us consider what is involved in each 
of these five forms separately. 

I must first, however, remark that some of these 
five divisions are omitted by Caecilius ; for instance, 
he says nothing about the passions. Now if he 
made this omission from a belief that the Sublime 


and tlie Pathetic are one and the same thing, 
holding them to be always coexistent and inter- 
dependent, he is in error. Some passions are found 
which, so far from being lofty, are actually low, such 
as pity, grief, fear ; and conversely, sublimity is often 
not in the least affecting, as we may see (among 
innumerable other instances) in those bold expres- 
sions of our great poet on the sons of Aloeus — - 

" Highly they raged 
To pile huge Ossa on the Olympian peak, 
And Pelion with all his waving trees 
On Ossa's crest to raise, and climb the sky ; " 

and the yet more tremendous climax — 

" And now had they accomplished it." 

And in orators, in all passages dealing with panegyric, 
and in all the more imposing and declamatory places, 
dignity and sublimity play an indispensable part; 
but pathos is mostly absent. Hence the most 
pathetic orators have usually but little skill in 
panegyric, and conversely those who are powerful in 
panegyric generally fail in pathos. If, on the other 
hand, Caecilius supposed that pathos never contributes 
to sublimity, and this is why he thought it alien to 
the subject, he is entirely deceived. Eor I would 
confidently pronounce that nothing is so conducive 
to sublimity as an appropriate display of genuine 
passion, which bursts out with a kind of "fine 


madness" and divine inspiration, and falls on our 
ears like the voice of a god. 


I have already said that of all these five 
conditions of the Sublime the most important is the 
first, that is, a certain lofty cast of mind. Therefore, 
although this is a faculty rather natural than 
acquired, nevertheless it will be well for us in this 
instance also to train up our souls to sublimity, and 
make them as it were ever big with noble thoughts. 
How, it may be asked, is this to be done ? I have 2 
hinted elsewhere in my writings that sublimity is, 
so to say, the image of greatness of soul. Hence a 
thought in its naked simplicity, even though un- 
uttered, is sometimes admirable by the sheer force 
of its sublimity ; for instance, the silence of Ajax in 
the eleventh Odyssey 1 is great, and grander than 
anything he could have said. It is absolutely 3 
essential, then, first of all to settle the question 
whence this grandeur of conception arises ; and the 
answer is that true eloquence can be found only in 
those whose spirit is generous and aspiring. For 
those whose whole lives are wasted in paltry and 
illiberal thoughts and habits cannot possibly produce 
any work worthy of the lasting reverence of mankind. 
1 Od. xi. 543. 


It is only natural that their words should be full of 

4 sublimity whose thoughts are full of majesty. Hence 
sublime thoughts belong properly to the loftiest 
minds. Such was the reply of Alexander to his 
general Parmenio, when the latter had observed, 
" Were I Alexander, I should have been satisfied " ; 
" And I, were I Parmenio "... 

The distance between heaven and earth 1 — a 
measure, one might say, not less appropriate to 
Homer's genius than to the stature of his discord. 

5 How different is that touch of Hesiod's in his de- 
scription of sorrow— if the Shield is really one of 
his works : " rheum from, her nostrils flowed " 2 — an 
image not terrible, but disgusting. Now consider 
how Homer gives dignity to his divine persons — 

" As far as lies his airy ken, who sits 
On some tall crag, and scans the wine-dark sea : 
So far extends the heavenly coursers' stride." 3 

He measures their speed by the extent of the whole 
world — a grand comparison, which might reasonably 
lead us to remark that if the divine steeds were to 
take two such leaps in succession, they would find 

6 no room in the world for another. Sublime also are 
the images in the " Battle of the Gods " — 

"A trumpet sound 
Rang through the air, and shook the Olympian height ; 
Then terror seized the monarch, of the dead, 

1 II. iv. 442. 2 Scut. Here. 267. 3 II. v. 770. 


And springing from his throne he cried aloud 
With fearful voice, lest the earth, rent asunder 
By Neptune's mighty arm, forthwith reveal 
To mortal and immortal eyes those halls 
So drear and dank, which e'en the gods abhor." 1 

Earth rent from its foundations ! Tartarus itself 
laid bare ! The whole world torn asunder and turned 
upside down ! Why, my dear friend, this is a perfect 
hurly-burly, in which the whole universe, heaven 
and hell, mortals and immortals, share the conflict 
and the peril. A terrible picture, certainly, but 7 
(unless perhaps it is to be taken allegorically) down- 
right impious, and overstepping the bounds of 
decency. It seems to me that the strange medley 
of wounds, quarrels, revenges, tears, bonds, and other 
woes which makes up the Homeric tradition of the 
gods was designed by its author to degrade his 
deities, as far as possible, into men, and exalt his 
men into deities — or rather, his gods are worse off 
than his human characters, since we, when we are 
unhappy, have a haven from ills in death, while the 
gods, according to him, not only live for ever, but 
live for ever in misery. Far to be preferred to this 8 
description of the Battle of the Gods are those 
passages which exhibit the divine nature in its true 
light, as something spotless, great, and pure, as, for 
instance, a passage which has often been handled by 
my predecessors, the lines on Poseidon : — 

1 II. xxi. 388 ; xx. 61. 


" Mountain and wood and solitary peak, 
The ships Achaian, and the towers of Troy, 
Trembled beneath the god's immortal feet. 
Over the waves he rode, and round him played, 
Lured from the deeps, the ocean's monstrous brood, 
With uncouth gambols welcoming their lord : 
The charmed billows parted : on they flew." 1 

9 And thus also the lawgiver of the Jews, no ordinary 
man, having formed an adequate conception of the 
Supreme Being, gave it adequate expression in the 
opening words of his " Laws " : " God said " — what ? 
- — " let there be light, and there was light : let there 
be land, and there was." 
10 I trust you will not think me tedious if I quote 
yet one more passage from our great poet (referring 
this time to human characters) in illustration of the 
manner in which he leads us with him to heroic 
heights. A sudden and baffling darkness as of night 
has overspread the ranks of his warring Greeks. 
Then Ajax in sore perplexity cries aloud— 

"Almighty Sire, 
Only from darkness save Achaia's sons ; 
No more I ask, but give us back the day; 
Grant but our sight, and slay us, if thou wilt." 2 

The feelings are just what we should look for in 
Ajax. He does not, you observe, ask for his life — 
such a request would have been unworthy of his 
heroic soul— but finding himself paralysed by dark- 

1 II. xiii. 18 ; xx. 60 ; xiii. 19, 27. 2 II. xvii. 645. 


ness, and prohibited from employing his valour in 
any noble action, he chafes because his arms are 
idle, and prays for a speedy return of light. "At 
least," he thinks, " I shall find a warrior's grave, 
even though Zeus himself should fight against me." 
In such passages the mind of the poet is swept along 11 
in the whirlwind of the struggle, and, in his own 
words, he 

" Like the fierce war-god, raves, or wasting fire 
Through the deep thickets on a mountain-side ; 
His lips drop foam." 1 

But there is another and a very interesting 12 
aspect of Homer's mind. When we turn to the 
Odyssey we find occasion to observe that a great 
poetical genius in the decline of power which comes 
with old age naturally leans towards the fabulous. 
For it is evident that this work was composed after 
the Iliad, in proof of which we may mention, among 
many other indications, the introduction in the 
Odyssey of the sequel to the story of his heroes' 
adventures at Troy, as so many additional episodes 
in the Trojan war, and especially the tribute of 
sorrow and mourning which is jpaid in that poem to 
departed heroes, as if in fulfilment of some previous 
design. The Odyssey is, in fact, a sort of epilogue to 
the Iliad — 

1 II. xv. 605. 


" There warrior Ajax lies, Achilles there, 
And there Patroclus, godlike counsellor; 
There lies my own dear son." 1 

13 And for the same reason, I imagine, whereas in the 
Iliad, which was written when his genius was in its 
prime, the whole structure of the poem is founded 
on action and struggle, in the Odyssey he generally 
prefers the narrative style, which is proper to old 
age. Hence Homer in his Odyssey may be compared 
to the setting sun : he is still as great as ever, but 
he has lost his fervent heat. The strain is now 
pitched to a lower key than in the " Tale of Troy 
divine " : we begin to miss that high and equable 
sublimity which never flags or sinks, that continuous 
current of moving incidents, those rapid transitions, 
that force of eloquence, that opulence of imagery 
which is ever true to Nature. Like the sea when 
it retires upon itself and leaves its shores waste and 
bare, henceforth the tide of sublimity begins to ebb, 
and draws us away into the dim region of myth and 
14 legend. In saying this I am not forgetting the fine 
storm-pieces in the Odyssey, the story of the Cyclops, 2 
and other striking passages. It is Homer grown 
old I am discussing, but still it is Homer. Yet in 
every one of these passages the mythical predomi- 
nates over the real. 

My purpose in making this digression was, as I 

1 Od. iii. 109. 2 Od. ix. 182. 


said, to point out into what trifles the second child- • 
hood of genius is too apt to be betrayed ; such, I 
mean, as the bag in which the winds are confined, 1 
the tale of Odysseus's comrades being changed by 
Circe into swine 2 ("whimpering porkers" Zoilus 
called them), and how Zeus was fed like a nestling 
by the doves, 3 and how Odysseus passed ten nights 
on the shipwreck without food, 4 and the improbable 
incidents in the slaying of the suitors. 6 When 
Homer nods like this, we must be content to say 
that he dreams as Zeus might dream. Another 15 
reason for these remarks on the Odyssey is that I 
wished to make you understand that great poets and 
prose -writers, after they have lost their power of 
depicting the passions, turn naturally to the delinea- 
tion of character. Such, for instance, is the lifelike 
and characteristic picture of the palace of Odysseus, 
which may be called a sort of comedy of manners. 


Let us now consider whether there is anything 
further which conduces to the Sublime in writing. 
It is a law of Fature that in all things there are 
certain constituent parts, coexistent with their 
substance. It necessarily follows, therefore, that 

1 Od. x. 17. 2 Od. x. 237. 

3 Od. xii. 62. 4 Od. xii. 447. 5 Od. xxii. passim. 


one cause of sublimity is the choice of the most 
striking circumstances involved in whatever we are 
describing, and, further, the power of afterwards 
combining them into one animate whole. The 
reader is attracted partly by the selection of the 
incidents, partly by the skill which has welded them 
together. For instance, Sappho, in dealing with the 
passionate manifestations attending on the frenzy of 
lovers, always chooses her strokes from the signs 
which she has observed to be actually exhibited in 
such cases. But her peculiar excellence lies in the 
felicity with which she chooses and unites together 
the most striking and powerful features. 

" I deem that man divinely blest 
Who sits, and, gazing on thy face, 
Hears thee discourse with eloquent lips, 

And marks thy lovely smile. 
This, this it is that made my heart 
So wildly nutter in my breast ; 
Whene'er I look on thee, my voice 

Falters, and faints, and fails ; 
My tongue's benumbed ; a subtle fire 
Through all my body inly steals ; 
Mine eyes in darkness reel and swim ; 

Strange murmurs drown my ears ; 
With dewy damps my limbs are chilled ; 
An icy shiver shakes my frame ; 
Paler than ashes grows my cheek ; 

And Death seems nigh at hand." 

Is it not wonderful how at the same moment 


soul, body, ears, tongue, eyes, colour, all fail her, and 
are lost to her as completely as if they were not her 
own ? Observe too how her sensations contradict 
one another — she freezes, she burns, she raves, she 
reasons, and all at the same instant. And this 
description is designed to show that she is assailed, 
not by any particular emotion, but by a tumult of 
different emotions. All these tokens belong to the 
passion of love ; but it is in the choice, as I said, of 
the most striking features, and in the combination of 
them into one picture, that the perfection of this 
Ode of Sappho's lies. Similarly Homer in his de- 
scriptions of tempests always picks out the most 
terrific circumstances. The poet of the "Arim- 4 
aspeia " intended the following lines to be grand — 

" Herein I find a wonder passing strange, 

That men should make their dwelling on the deep, 
Who far from land essaying bold to range 

With anxious heart their toilsome vigils keep ; 

Their eyes are fixed on heaven's starry steep ; 
The ravening billows hunger for their lives ; 

And oft each shivering wretch, constrained to weep, 
With suppliant hands to move heaven's pity strives, 
While many a direful qualm his very vitals rives." 

All must see that there is more of ornament than 
of' terror in the description. Now let us turn to 
Homer. One passage will suffice to show the 5 


" On them lie leaped, as leaps a raging wave, 
Child of the winds, under the darkening clouds, 
On a swift ship, and buries her in foam ; 
Then cracks the sail beneath the roaring blast, 
And quakes the breathless seamen's shuddering heart 
In terror dire : death lours on every wave." 1 

Aratus has tried to give a new turn to this last 
thought — 
" But one frail timber shields them from their doom," 2 — 

banishing by this feeble piece of subtlety all the 
terror from his description ; setting limits, moreover, 
to the peril described by saying " shields them " ; for 
so long as it shields them it matters not whether 
the " timber " be " frail " or stout. ' But Homer does 
not set any fixed limit to the danger, but gives us a 
vivid picture of men a thousand times on the brink 
of destruction, every wave threatening them with 
instant death. Moreover, by his bold and forcible 
combination of prepositions of opposite meaning he 
tortures his language to imitate the agony of the 
scene, the constraint which is put on the words 
accurately reflecting the anxiety of the sailors' minds, 
and the diction being stamped, as it were, with the 
peculiar terror of the situation. Similarly Archil- 
ochus in his description of the shipwreck, and 
similarly Demosthenes when he describes how the 
news came of the taking of Elatea 3 — " It was even- 

1 II. xv. 624. 2 Phaenomena, 299. 

3 Be Cot. 169. 


ing," etc. Each, of these authors fastidiously rejects 
whatever is not essential to the subject, and in 
putting together the most vivid features is careful 
to guard against the interposition of anything 
frivolous, unbecoming, or tiresome. Such blemishes 
mar the general effect, and give a patched and 
gaping appearance to the edifice of sublimity, which 
ought to be built up in a solid and uniform structure. 


Closely associated with the part of our subject 
we have just treated of is that excellence of writing 
which is called amplification, when a writer or 
pleader, whose theme admits of many successive 
starting-points and pauses, brings on one impressive 
point after another in a continuous and ascending 
scale. Now whether this is employed in the treat- 
ment of a commonplace, or in the way of exaggera- 
tion, whether to place arguments or facts in a strong 
light, or in the disposition of actions, or of passions — 
for amplification takes a hundred different shapes — 
in all cases the orator must be cautioned that none 
of these methods is complete without the aid of 
sublimity, — unless, indeed, it be our object to excite 
pity, or to depreciate an opponent's argument. In 
all other uses of amplification, if you subtract the 
element of sublimity you will take as it were the 


soul from the body. No sooner is the support of 
sublimity removed than the whole becomes lifeless, 
nerveless, and dull. 

There is a difference, however, between the rules 
I am now giving and those just mentioned. Then I 
was speaking of the delineation and co-ordination of 
the principal circumstances. My next task, there- 
fore, must be briefly to define this difference, and 
with it the general distinction between amplification 
and sublimity. Our whole discourse will thus gain 
in clearness. 


I must first remark that I am not satisfied with 
the definition of amplification generally given by 
authorities on rhetoric. They explain it to be a 
form of language which invests the subject with a 
certain grandeur. Yes, but this definition may be 
applied indifferently to sublimity, pathos, and the 
use of figurative language, since all these invest the 
discourse, with some sort of grandeur. The difference 
seems to me to lie in this, that sublimity gives 
elevation to a subject, while amplification gives 
extension as well. Thus the sublime is often con- 
veyed in a single thought, 1 but amplification can 
only subsist with a certain prolixity and diffusiveness. 
The most general definition of amplification would 

1 Comp. i. 4. 26. 


explain it to consist in the gathering together of all 
the constituent parts and topics of a subject, empha- 
sising the argument by repeated insistence, herein 
differing from proof, that whereas the object of proof 
is logical demonstration, . . . 

Plato, like the sea, pours forth his riches in a copi- 
ous and expansive flood. Hence the style of the orator, 3 
who is the greater master of our emotions, is often, as 
it were, red-hot and ablaze with passion, whereas Plato, 
whose strength lay in a sort of weighty and sober 
magnificence, though never frigid, does not rival the 
thunders of Demosthenes. And, if a Greek may 4 
be allowed to express an opinion on the subject of 
Latin literature, I think the same difference may be 
discerned in the grandeur of Cicero as compared 
with that of his Grecian rival. The sublimity of 
Demosthenes is generally sudden and abrupt : that 
of Cicero is equally diffused. Demosthenes is 
vehement, rapid, vigorous, terrible ; he burns and 
sweeps away all before him ; and hence we may 
liken him to a whirlwind or a thunderbolt : Cicero is 
like a widespread conflagration, which rolls over 
and feeds on all around it, whose fire is extensive 
and burns long, breaking out successively in different 
places, and finding its fuel now here, now there. 
Such points, however, I resign to your more com- 5 
petent judgment. 

To resume, then, the high-strung sublimity of 


Demosthenes is appropriate to all cases where it is 
desired to exaggerate, or to rouse some vehement 
emotion, and generally when we want to carry away 
onr audience with us. We must employ the diffusive 
style, on the other hand, when we wish to overpower 
them with a flood of language. It is suitable, for 
example, to familiar topics, and to perorations in 
most cases, and. to digressions, and to all descriptive 
and declamatory passages, and in dealing with history 
or natural science, and in numerous other cases. 


To return, however, to Plato : how grand he can 
he with all that gentle and noiseless flow of eloquence 
you will be reminded by this characteristic passage, 
which you have read in his Republic : " They, 
therefore, who have no knowledge of wisdom and 
virtue, whose lives are passed in feasting and similar 
joys, are borne downwards, as is but natural, and in 
this region they wander all their lives ; but they 
never lifted up their eyes nor were borne upwards 
to the true world above, nor ever tasted of pleasure 
abiding and unalloyed ; but like beasts they ever 
look downwards, and their heads are bent to the 
ground, or rather to the table ; they feed full their 
bellies and their lusts, and longing ever more and 
more for such things they kick and gore one another 


with horns and hoofs of iron, and slay one another 
in their insatiable desires." 1 

We may learn from this author, if we would but 
observe his example, that there is yet another path 
besides those mentioned which leads to sublime 
heights. What path do I mean ? The emulous 
imitation of the great poets and prose-writers of the 
past. On this mark, dear friend, let us keep our 
eyes ever steadfastly fixed. Many gather the divine 
impulse from another's spirit, just as we are told 
that the Pythian priestess, when she takes her seat 
on the tripod, where there is said to be a rent in 
the ground breathing upwards a heavenly emanation, 
straightway conceives from that source the godlike 
gift of prophecy, and utters her inspired oracles ; so 
likewise from the mighty genius of the great writers 
of antiquity there is carried into the souls of their 
rivals, as from a fount of inspiration, an effluence 
which breathes upon them until, even though their 
natural temper be but cold, they share the sublime 
enthusiasm of others. Thus Homer's name is asso- 
ciated with a numerous band of illustrious disciples — 
not only Herodotus, but Stesichorus before him, and 
the great Archilochus, and above all Plato, who 
from the great fountain-head of Homer's genius 
drew into himself innumerable tributary streams. 
Perhaps it would have been necessary to illustrate 
1 Rep. ix. 586, A. 


this point, had not Ammonius and his school 
already classified and noted down the various 
4 examples. Now what I am speaking of is not 
plagiarism, but resembles the process of copying 
from fair forms or statues or works of skilled labour. 
Nor in my opinion wonld so many fair flowers of 
imagery have bloomed among the philosophical 
dogmas of Plato, nor would he have risen so often 
to the language and topics of poetry, had he not 
engaged heart and soul in a contest for precedence 
with Homer, like a young champion entering the 
lists against a veteran. It may be that he showed 
too ambitious a spirit in venturing on such a duel ; 
but nevertheless it was not without advantage to 
him : " for strife like this," as Hesiod says, " is good 
for men." 1 And where shall we find a more glori- 
ous arena or a nobler crown than here, where even 
defeat at the hands of our predecessors is not 
ignoble ? 


Therefore it is good for us also, when we are 
labouring on some subject which demands a lofty 
and majestic style, to imagine to ourselves how 
Homer might have expressed this or that, or how 
Plato or Demosthenes would have clothed it with 

1 Opp, 29. 


sublimity, or, in history, Thucydides. For by our 
fixing an eye of rivalry on those high examples 
they will become like beacons to guide us, and will 
perhaps lift up our souls to the fulness of the 
stature we conceive. And it would be still better 
should we try to realise this further thought, How 
would Homer, had he been here, or how ' would 
Demosthenes, have listened to what I have written, 
or how would they have been affected by it ? For 
what higher incentive to exertion could a writer 
have than to imagine such judges or such an 
audience of his works, and to give an account of his 
writings with heroes like these to criticise and look 
on ? Yet more inspiring would be the thought, 
With what feelings will future ages through all time 
read these my works ? If this should awaken a 
fear in any writer that he will not be intelligible to 
his contemporaries it will necessarily follow that 
the conceptions of his mind will be crude, maimed, 
and abortive, and lacking that ripe perfection which 
alone can win the applause of ages to come. 


The ' dignity, grandeur, and energy of a style 
largely depend on a proper employment of images, 
a term which I prefer to that usually given. 1 The 

1 elduAoiroucu, " fictions of the imagination, " Hickie. 



term image in its most general acceptation includes 
every thought, howsoever presented, which issues in 
speech. But the term is now generally confined to 
those cases when he who is speaking, by reason of 
the rapt and excited state of his feelings, imagines 
himself to see what he is talking about, and pro- 
duces a similar illusion in his hearers. Poets and 
orators both employ images, but with a very differ- 
ent object, as you are well aware. The poetical 
image is designed to astound ; the oratorical image 
to give perspicuity. Both, however, seek to work 
on the emotions. 

" Mother, I pray thee, set not thou upon me 
Those maids with bloody face and serpent hair : 
See, see, they come, they're here, they spring upon me I" 1 

And again — - 

" Ah, ah, sheTl slay me ! whither shall I fly ? " 2 

The poet when he wrote like this saw the Erinyes 
with his own eyes, and he almost compels his readers 
to see them too. Euripides found his chief delight 
in the labour of giving tragic expression to these 
two passions of madness and love, showing here a 
real mastery which I cannot think he exhibited 
elsewhere. Still, he is by no means diffident in 
venturing on other fields of the imagination. His 
genius was far from being of the highest order, but 

1 Eur. Orest. 255. 2 Iph. Taur. 291. 


by taking pains he often raises himself to a tragic 
elevation. In his sublimer moments he generally 
reminds us of Homer's description of the lion — 
" With tail he lashes both his flanks and sides, 
And spurs himself to battle." 1 

Take, for instance, that passage in which Helios, in 
handing the reins to his son, says — 

" Drive on, but shun the burning Libyan tract ; 
The hot dry air will let thine axle down : 
Toward the seven Pleiades keep thy steadfast way." 

And then — 

" This said, his son undaunted snatched the reins, 
Then smote the winged coursers' sides : they bound 
Forth on the void and cavernous vault of air. 
His father mounts another steed, and rides 
With warning voice guiding his son. c Drive there ! ; 
Turn, turn thy car this way. '" 2 

May we not say that the spirit of the poet mounts 
the chariot with his hero, and accompanies the 
winged steeds in their perilous flight ? Were it not 
so, — had not his imagination soared side by side 
w T ith them in that celestial passage, — he would 
never have conceived so vivid an image. Similar is 
that passage in his " Cassandra/' beginning 

" Ye Trojans, lovers of the steed." 3 
Aeschylus is especially bold in forming images 

1 11. xx. 170. 2 Eur. Phaet. 

3 Perhaps from the lost "Alexander" (Jahn). 



suited to his heroic themes : as when he says of his 
" Seven against Thebes " — • 

" Seven mighty men, and valiant captains, slew 
Over an iron-bound shield a bull, then dipped 
Their fingers in the blood, and all invoked 
Ares, Enyo, and death-dealing Flight 
In witness of their oaths," 1 

and describes how they all mutually pledged them- 
selves without flinching to die. Sometimes, how- 
ever, his thoughts are unshapen, and as it were rough- 
hewn and rugged. Not observing this, Euripides, 
from too blind a rivalry, sometimes falls under the 

6 same censure. Aeschylus with a strange violence 
of language represents the palace of Lycurgus as 
possessed at the appearance of Dionysus — 

" The halls with rapture thrill, the roof's inspired." 2 

Here Euripides, in borrowing the image, softens its 
extravagance 3 — 

" And all the mountain felt the god." 4 

7 Sophocles has also shown himself a great master of 
the imagination in the scene in which the dying 
Oedipus prepares himself for burial in the midst of 
a tempest, 5 and where he tells how Achilles appeared 
to the Greeks over his tomb just as they were 

1 Sept. c. Th. 42. 2 Aesch. Lycurg. 

3 Lit. "Giving it a different flavour," as Arist. Poet, ydvajuieixp 
\6yqj x<*>P'S €K&crU{) tw el8Qv 9 ii. 10. 

4 Bacch. 726. 5 Oed. Col. 1586. 


putting out to sea on their departure from Troy. 1 
This last scene has also been delineated by Simonides 
with a vividness which leaves him inferior to none. 
But it would be an endless task to cite all possible 

To return, then, 2 in poetry, as I observed, a 
certain mythical exaggeration is allowable, trans- 
cending altogether mere logical credence. But the 
chief beauties of an oratorical image are its energy 
and reality. Such digressions become offensive and 
monstrous when the language is cast in a poetical 
and fabulous mould, and runs into all sorts of 
impossibilities. Thus much may be learnt from 
the great orators of our own day, when they tell us 
in tragic tones that they see the Furies 3 — good 
people, can t they understand that when Orestes 
cries out 

" Off, off, I say ! I know thee who thou art, 
One of the fiends that haunt me: I feel thine arms 
About one cast, to drag me down to hell," 4 

these are the hallucinations of a madman? 

Wherein, then, lies the force of an oratorical 
image ? Doubtless in adding energy and passion in 
a hundred different ways to a speech ; but especially 
in this, that when it is mingled with the practical, 
argumentative parts of an oration, it does not merely 

1 In his lost " Polyxena." 2 § 2. 

3 Comp. Petronius, Satyricon, ch. i. passim. 4 Orest. 264. 


convince the hearer, but enthralls him. Such is the 
effect of those words of Demosthenes : - 1 " Supposing, 
now, at this moment a cry of alarm were heard out- 
side the assize courts, and the news came that the 
prison was broken open and the prisoners escaped, 
is there any man here who is such a trifler that he 
would not run to the rescue at the top of his speed ? 
But suppose some one came forward with the in- 
formation that they had been set at liberty by the 
defendant, what then ? Why, he would be lynched 

10 on the spot !" Compare also the way in which 
Hyperides excused himself, when he was proceeded 
against for bringing in a bill to liberate the slaves 
after Chaeronea. "This measure," he said, "was 
not drawn up by any orator, but by the battle of 
Chaeronea/' This striking image, being thrown in 
by the speaker in the midst of his proofs, enables 
him by one bold stroke to carry all mere logical 

11 objection before him. In all such cases our nature 
is drawn towards that which affects it most power- 
fully : hence an image lures us away from an 
argument : judgment is paralysed, matters of fact 
disappear from view, eclipsed by the superior blaze. 
Nor is it surprising that we should be thus affected ; 
for when two forces are thus placed in juxtaposition, 
the stronger must always absorb into itself the 

1 c. Timocmt. 208. 


On sublimity of thought, and the manner in 12 
which it arises from native greatness of mind, 
from imitation, and from the employment of images, 
this brief outline must suffice. 1 


The subject which next claims our attention is 
that of figures of speech. I have already observed 
that figures, judiciously employed, play an import- 
ant part in producing sublimity. It would be a 
tedious, or rather an endless task, to deal with 
every detail of this subject here ; so in order to 
establish what I have laid down, I will just run 
over, without further preface, a few of those figures 
which are most effective in lending grandeur to 

Demosthenes is defending his policy ; his natural 2 
line of argument would have been : " You did not 
do wrong, men of Athens, to take upon yourselves 
the struggle for the liberties of Hellas. Of this you 
have home proofs. They did not wrong who fought 
at Marathon, at Salamis, and Plataea." Instead of 
this, in a sudden moment of supreme exaltation he 
bursts out like some inspired prophet with that 
famous appeal to the mighty dead : " Ye did not, 
could not have done wrong. I swear it by the 

1 He passes over chs. x. xi. 


men who faced the foe at Marathon I" 1 He employs 
the figure of adjuration, to which I will here give 
the name of Apostrophe. And what does he gain 
by it ? He exalts the Athenian ancestors to the 
rank of divinities, showing that we ought to invoke 
those who have fallen for their country as gods ; he 
fills the hearts of his judges with the heroic pride 
of the old warriors of Hellas ; forsaking the beaten 
path of argument he rises to the loftiest altitude 
of grandeur and passion, and commands assent by 
the startling novelty of his appeal ; he applies the 
healing charm of eloquence, and thus "ministers to 
the mind diseased " of his countrymen, until lifted 
by his brave words above their misfortunes they 
begin to feel that the disaster of Chaeronea is no less 
glorious than the victories of Marathon and Salamis. 
All this he effects by the use of one figure, and so 
carries his hearers away with him. It is said that 
the germ of this adjuration is found in Eupolis — 

" By mine own fight, by Marathon, I say, 
Who makes my heart to ache shall rue the day ! " 2 

But there is nothing grand in the mere employment 
of an oath. Its grandeur will depend on its being 
employed in the right place and the right manner, 
on the right occasion, and with the right motive. 
In Eupolis the oath is nothing beyond an oath ; and 

1 De Cor. 208. 
2 In his (lost) " Demis." 


the Athenians to whom it is addressed are still 
prosperous, and in need of no consolation. More- 
over, the poet does not, like Demosthenes, swear by 
the departed heroes as deities, so as to engender in 
his audience a just conception of their valour, but 
diverges from the champions to the battle — a mere 
lifeless thing. But Demosthenes has so skilfully 
managed the oath that in addressing his countrymen 
after the defeat of Chaeronea he takes out of their 
minds all sense of disaster ; and at the same time, 
while proving that no mistake has been made, he 
holds up an example, confirms his arguments by an 
oath, and makes his praise of the dead an incentive 
to the living. And to rebut a possible objection 4 
which occurred to him — " Can you, Demosthenes, 
whose policy ended in defeat, swear by a victory ? " 
— the orator proceeds to measure his language, 
choosing his very words so as to give no handle to 
opponents, thus showing us that even in our most 
inspired moments reason ought to hold the reins. 1 
Let us mark his words : " Those who faced the foe at 
Marathon; those who fought in the sea-fights of 
Salamis and Artemisium ; those who stood in the 
ranks at Plataea." Note that he nowhere says 
" those who conquered" artfully suppressing any word 
which might hint at the successful issue of those 

1 Lit. " That even in the midst of the revels of Bacchus we ought 
to remain sober." 


battles, which would have spoilt the parallel with 
Chaeronea. And for the same reason he steals a 
march on his audience, adding immediately : " All 
of whom, Aeschines,— not those who were successful 
only,— were buried by the state at the public 


There is one truth which my studies have led me 
to observe, which perhaps it would be worth while 
to set down briefly here. It is this, that by a 
natural law the Sublime, besides receiving an acqui- 
sition of strength from figures, in its turn lends 
support in a remarkable manner to them. To 
explain : the use of figures has a peculiar tendency 
to rouse a suspicion of dishonesty, and to create an 
impression of treachery, scheming, and false reason- 
ing ; especially if the person addressed be a judge, 
who is master of the situation, and still more in the 
case of a despot, a king, a military potentate, or any 
of those who sit in high places. 1 If a man feels 
that this artful speaker is treating him like a silly 
boy and trying to throw dust in his eyes, he at once 
grows irritated, and thinking that such false reason- 
ing implies a contempt of his understanding, he 
perhaps flies into a rage and will not hear another 

1 Reading with. Cobet, kcl'l irdvras rods iv virepox^h. 


word ; or even if he masters his resentment, still he 
is utterly indisposed to yield to the persuasive power 
of eloquence. Hence it follows that a figure is then 
most effectual when it appears in disguise. To 2 
allay, then, this distrust which attaches to the use 
of figures we must call in the powerful aid of 
sublimity and passion. For art, once associated 
with these great allies, will be overshadowed by their 
grandeur and beauty, and pass beyond the reach of 
all suspicion. To prove this I need only refer to 
the passage already quoted : " I swear it by the 
men," etc. It is the very brilliancy of the orator's 
figure which blinds us to the fact that it is a figure. 
For as the fainter lustre of the stars is put out of sight 
by the all-encompassing rays of the sun, so when 
sublimity sheds its light all round the sophistries of 
rhetoric they become invisible. A similar illusion 3 
is produced by the painter's art. When light and 
shadow are represented in colour, though they lie on 
the same surface side by side, it is the light which 
meets the eye first, and appears not only more con- 
spicuous but also much nearer. In the same 
manner passion and grandeur of language, lying 
nearer to our souls by reason both of a certain 
natural affinity and of their radiance, always strike 
our mental eye before we become conscious of the 
figure, throwing its artificial character into the shade 
and hiding it as it were in a veil. 



The figures of question and interrogation 1 also 
possess a specific quality which tends strongly to 
stir an audience and give energy to the speaker's 
words. " Or tell me, do you want to run about 
asking one another, is there any news ? what greater 
news could you have than that a man of Macedon 
is making himself master of Hellas ? Is Philip 
dead? Not he. However, he is ill. But what is 
that to you ? Even if anything happens to him you 
will soon raise up another Philip." 2 Or this 
passage : " Shall we sail against Macedon ? And 
where, asks one, shall we effect a landing ? The 
war itself will show us where Philip's weak places 
lie." 2 Now if this had been put baldly it would 
have lost greatly in force. As we see it, it is full 
of the quick alternation of question and answer. 
The orator replies to himself as though he were 
meeting another man's objections. And this figure 
not only raises the tone of his words but makes them 
more convincing. For an exhibition of feeling has 
then most effect on an audience when it appears to 
flow naturally from the occasion, not to have been 
laboured by the art of the speaker ; and this device 
of questioning and replying to himself reproduces 

1 See Note. 2 Phil. i. 44. 


the moment of passion. For as a sudden question 
addressed to an individual will sometimes startle him 
into a reply which is an unguarded expression of his 
genuine sentiments, so the figure of question and 
interrogation blinds the judgment of an audience, 
and deceives them into a belief that what is really 
the result of labour in every detail has been struck 
out of the speaker by the inspiration of the moment. 
There is one passage in Herodotus which is 
generally credited with extraordinary sublimity. . . . 


. . . The removal of connecting particles gives a 
quick rush and " torrent rapture" to a passage, the 
writer appearing to be actually almost left behind 
by his own words. There is an example in Xen- 
ophon : " Clashing their shields together they pushed, 
they fought, they slew, they fell." 1 And the w T ords 
of Eurylochus in the Odyssey — 

" We passed at thy command the woodland's shade ; 
We found a stately hall built in a mountain glade." 2 

Words thus severed from one another without the 
intervention of stops give a lively impression of one 
who through distress of mind at once halts and 

1 Xen. Hel, iv. 3. 19. 2 Od. x. 251. 


hurries in his speech. And this is what Homer has 
expressed by using the figure Asyndeton. 


But nothing is so conducive to energy as a com- 
bination of different figures, when two or three 
uniting their resources mutually contribute to the 
vigour, the cogency, and the beauty of a speech. So 
Demosthenes in his speech against Meidias repeats 
the same words and breaks up his sentences in one 
lively descriptive passage : " He who receives a blow 
is hurt in many ways which he could not even 
describe to another, by gesture, by look, by tone." 
Then, to vary the movement of his speech, and pre- 
vent it from standing still (for stillness produces rest, 
but passion requires a certain disorder of language, 
imitating the agitation and commotion of the soul), 
he at once dashes off in another direction, breaking 
up his words again, and repeating them in a different 
form, " by gesture, by look, by tone — when insult, 
when hatred, is added to violence, when he is struck 
with the fist, when he is struck as a slave ! " By 
such means the orator imitates the action of Meidias, 
dealing blow upon blow on the minds of his judges. 
Immediately after like a hurricane he makes a fresh 
attack : " When he is struck with the fist, when he 
is struck in the face ; this is what moves, this is what 


maddens a man, unless he is inured to outrage ; no 
one could describe all this so as to bring home to 
his hearers its bitterness." 1 You see how he pre- 
serves, by continual variation, the intrinsic force of 
these repetitions and broken clauses, so that his 
order seems irregular, and conversely his irregularity 
acquires a certain measure of order. 


Supposing we add the conjunctions, after the 
practice of Isocrates and his school : " Moreover, I 
must not omit to mention that he who strikes a blow 
may hurt in many ways, in the first place by gesture, 
in the second place by look, in the third and last 
place by his tone." If you compare the words thus 
set down in logical sequence with the expressions of 
the "Meidias," you will see that the rapidity and 
rugged abruptness of passion, when all is made 
regular by connecting links, will be smoothed away, 
and the whole point and fire of the passage will at 
once disappear. For as, if you were to bind two 
runners together, they will forthwith be deprived of 
all liberty of movement, even so passion rebels 
against the trammels of conjunctions and other 
particles, because they curb its free rush and destroy 
the impression of mechanical impulse. 
1 MM. 72. 



The figure hyperbaton belongs to the same class. 
By hyperbaton we mean a transposition of words 
or thoughts from their usual order, bearing unmis- 
takably the characteristic stamp of violent mental 
agitation. In real life we often see a man under 
the influence of rage, or fear, or indignation, or beside 
himself with jealousy, or with some other out of the 
interminable list of human passions, begin a sentence, 
and then swerve aside into some inconsequent paren- 
thesis, and then again double back to his original 
statement, being borne with quick turns by his dis- 
tress, as though by a shifting wind, now this way, 
now that, and playing a thousand capricious varia- 
tions on his words, his thoughts, and the natural 
order of his discourse. Now the figure hyperbaton 
is the means which is employed by the best writers 
to imitate these signs of natural emotion. For art 
is then perfect when it seems to be nature, and 
nature, again, is most effective when pervaded by 
the unseen presence of art. An illustration will be 
found in the speech of Dionysius of Phocaea in 
Herodotus : " A hair's breadth now decides our 
destiny, lonians, whether we shall live as freemen 
or as slaves — ay, as runaway slaves. Now, therefore, 
if you choose to endure a little hardship, you will be 


able at the cost of some present exertion to overcome 
your enemies." 1 The regular sequence here would 2 
have been : " Ionians, now is the time for you to 
endure a little hardship ; for a hair's breadth will 
now decide our destiny." But the Phocaean trans- 
poses the title " Ionians," rushing at once to the 
subject of alarm, as though in the terror of the 
moment he had forgotten the usual address to his 
audience. Moreover, he inverts the logical order of 
his thoughts, and instead of beginning with the 
necessity for exertion, which is the point he wishes 
to urge upon them, he first gives them the reason 
for that necessity in the words, " a hair's breadth 
now decides our destiny," so that his words seem 
unpremeditated, and forced upon him by the crisis. 

Thucydides surpasses all other writers in the 3 
bold use of this figure, even breaking up sentences 
which are by their nature absolutely one and in- 
divisible. But nowhere do we find it so unsparingly 
employed as in Demosthenes, who though not so 
daring in his manner of using it as the elder writer 
is very happy in giving to his speeches by frequent 
transpositions the lively air of unstudied debate. 
Moreover, he drags, as it were, his audience with 
him into the perils of a long inverted clause. He 4 
often begins to say something, then leaves the 
thought in suspense, meanwhile thrusting in between, 
1 vi. 11. 


in a position apparently foreign and unnatural, some 
extraneous matters, one upon another, and having 
thus made his hearers fear lest the whole discourse 
should break down, and forced them into eager sym- 
pathy with the danger of the speaker, when he is 
nearly at the end of a period he adds just at the 
right moment, i.e. when it is least expected, the 
point which they have been waiting for so long. 
And thus by the very boldness and hazard of his 
inversions he produces a much more astounding 
effect. I forbear to cite examples, as they are too 
numerous to require it. 


The juxtaposition of different cases, the enumera- 
tion of particulars, and the use of contrast and climax, 
all, as you know, add much vigour, and give beauty 
and great elevation and life to a style. The diction 
also gains greatly in diversity and movement by 
changes of case, time, person, number, and gender. 

With regard to change of number :, not only is 
the style improved by the use of those words which, 
though singular in form, are found on inspection to 
be plural in meaning, as in the lines — 

" A countless host dispersed along the sand 
With joyous cries the shoal of tunny hailed," 

but it is more worthy of observation that plurals 


for singulars sometimes fall with a more impressive 
dignity, rousing the imagination by the mere sense 
of vast number. Such is the effect of those words 
of Oedipus in Sophocles — 

" Oh fatal, fatal ties ! 
Ye gave us birth, and we being born ye sowed 
The self-same seed, and gave the world to view 
Sons, brothers, sires, domestic murder foul, 
Brides, mothers, wives. . . . Ay, ye laid bare 
The blackest, deepest place where Shame can dwell." x 

Here we have in either case but one person, first 
Oedipus, then Jocasta ; but the expansion of number 
into the plural gives an impression of multiplied 
calamity. So in the following plurals — 

"There came forth Hectors, and there came Sarpedons." 

And in those words of Plato's (which we have 
already adduced elsewhere), referring to the 
Athenians : " We have no Pelopses or Cadmuses or 
Aegyptuses or Danauses, or any others out of all the 
mob of Hellenised barbarians, dwelling among us ; 
no, this is the land of pure Greeks, with no mixture 
of foreign elements," 2 etc. Such an accumulation 
of words in the plural number necessarily gives 
greater pomp and sound to a subject. But we must 
only have recourse to this device when the nature 
of our theme makes it allowable to amplify, to 
multiply, or to speak in the tones of exaggeration or 

1 0. R. 1403. 2 Mencx. 245, D. 


passion. To overlay every sentence with ornament l 
is very pedantic. 


On the other hand, the contraction of plurals 
into singulars sometimes creates an appearance of 
great dignity ; as in that phrase of Demosthenes : 
" Thereupon all Peloponnesus was divided." 2 There 
is another in Herodotus : " When Phrynichus 
brought a drama on the stage entitled The Taking 
of Miletus, the whole theatre fell a weeping" — 
instead of "all the spectators." This knitting 
together of a number of scattered particulars into 
one whole gives them an aspect of corporate life. 
And the beauty of both uses lies, I think, in their 
betokening emotion, by giving a sudden change of 
complexion to the circumstances, — whether a word 
which is strictly singular is unexpectedly changed 
into a plural, — or whether a number of isolated units 
are combined by the use of a single sonorous word 
under one head. 


When past events are introduced as happening 
in present time the narrative form is changed into 

1 Lit. "To hang bells everywhere," a metaphor from the bells 
which were attached to horses' trappings on festive occasions. 

2 DeCor. 18. 


a dramatic action. Such is that description in 
Xenophon : " A man who has fallen and is being 
trampled under foot by Cyrus's horse, strikes the 
belly of the animal with his scimitar; the horse 
starts aside and unseats Cyrus, and he falls/' 
Similarly in many passages of Thucydides. 


Equally dramatic is the interchange of persons, 
often making a reader fancy himself to be moving 
in the midst of the perils described — 

" Unwearied, thou wouldst deem, with toil unspent, 
They met in war ; so furiously they fought. " 1 

and that line in Aratus — 

" Beware that month to tempt the surging sea." 2 

In the same way Herodotus : " Passing from the 
city of Elephantine you will sail upwards until you 
reach a level plain. You cross this region, and 
there entering another ship you will sail on for two 
days, and so reach a great city, whose name is 
Meroe." 3 Observe how he takes us, as it were, by 
the hand, and leads us in spirit through these places, 
making us no longer readers, but spectators. Such 
a direct personal address always has the effect of 
placing the reader in the midst of the scene of 

1 II. xv. 697. 2 Phaen. 287. 3 ii. 29. 


3 action. And by pointing your words to the individual 
reader, instead of to the readers generally, as in the 

" Thou had'st not known for whom Tydides fought," 1 

and thus exciting him by an appeal to himself, you 
will rouse interest, and fix attention, and make him 
a partaker in the action of the book. 


Sometimes, again, a writer in the midst of a 
narrative in the third person suddenly steps aside 
and makes a transition to the first. It is a kind of 
figure which strikes like a sudden outburst of 
passion. Thus Hector in the Iliad 

" With mighty voice called to the men of Troy 
To storm the ships, and leave the bloody spoils : 
If any I behold with willing foot 
Shunning the ships, and lingering on the plain, 
That hour I will contrive his death." 2 

The poet then takes upon himself the narrative part, 
as being his proper business ; but this abrupt threat 
he attributes, without a word of warning, to the 
enraged Trojan chief. To have interposed any such 
words as " Hector said so and so " would have had 
a frigid effect. As the lines stand the writer is left 
behind by his own words, and the transition is 

1 II. v. 85. 2 II. xv. 346. 


effected while he is preparing for it. Accordingly 
the proper rise of this figure is in dealing with some 
urgent crisis which will not allow the writer to 
linger, but compels him to make a rapid change 
from one person to another. So in Hecataeus : 
" Now Ceyx took this in dudgeon, and straightway 
bade the children of Heracles to depart. ' Behold, 
I can give you no help ; lest, therefore, ye perish 
yourselves and bring hurt upon me also, get ye 
forth into some other land.' " There is a different 
use of the change of persons in the speech of 
Demosthenes against Aristogeiton, which places 
before us the quick turns of violent emotion. " Is 
there none to be found among you," he asks, " who 
even feels indignation at the outrageous conduct of 
a loathsome and shameless wretch who, — vilest of 
men, when you were debarred from freedom of 
speech, not by barriers or by doors, which might 
indeed be opened," - 1 etc. Thus in the midst of a 
half-expressed thought he makes a quick change of 
front, and having almost in his anger torn one word 
into two persons, " who, vilest of men/' etc., he 
then breaks off his address to Aristogeiton, and 
seems to leave him, nevertheless, by the passion of 
his utterance, rousing all the more the attention of 
the court. The same feature may be observed in a 
speech of Penelope's — 

1 c. Aristog. i. 27. 


" Why com'st thou, Medon, from the wooers proud ? 
Com'st thou to bid the handmaids of my lord 
To cease their tasks, and make for them good cheer ? 
Ill fare their wooing, and their gathering here ! 
Would God that here this hour they all might take 
Their last, their latest meal ! Who day by day 
Make here your muster, to devour and waste 
The substance of my son : have ye not heard 
When children at your fathers' knee the deeds 
And prowess of your king ? " 1 


None, I suppose, would dispute the fact that 
periphrasis tends much to sublimity. For, as in 
music the simple air is rendered more pleasing by 
the addition of harmony, so in language periphrasis 
often sounds in concord with a literal expression, 
adding much to the beauty of its tone, — provided 
always that it is not inflated and harsh, but agree- 
2 ably blended. To confirm this one passage from 
Plato will suffice— the opening words of his Funeral 
Oration : " In deed these men have now received 
from us their due, and that tribute paid they are 
now passing on their destined journey, with the 
State speeding them all and his own friends speed- 
ing each one of them on his way." 2 Death, you 
see, he calls the " destined journey " ; to receive the 

1 Od. iv. 681. 2 Menex. 236, D. 


rites of burial is to be publicly " sped on your way" 
by the State. And these turns of language lend 
dignity in no common measure to the thought. He 
takes the words in their naked simplicity and handles 
them as a musician, investing them with melody, — 
harmonising them, as it were, — by the use of peri- 
phrasis. So Xenophon : " Labour you regard as the 
guide to a pleasant life, and you have laid up in 
your souls the fairest and most soldier-like of all 
gifts : in praise is your delight, more than in any- 
thing else." 1 By saying, instead of " you are ready 
to labour," "you regard labour as the guide to a 
pleasant life," and by similarly expanding the rest 
of that passage, he gives to his eulogy a much wider 
and loftier range of sentiment. Let us add that 
inimitable phrase in Herodotus : " Those Scythians 
who pillaged the temple were smitten from heaven 
by a female malady." 


But this figure, more than any other, is very 
liable to abuse, and great restraint is required in 
employing it. It soon begins to carry an impression 
of feebleness, savours of vapid trifling, and arouses 
disgust. Hence Plato, who is very bold and not 
always happy in his use of figures, is much ridiculed 
1 Cyrop. i. 5. 12. 


for saying in his Laws that " neither gold nor silver 
wealth must be allowed to establish itself in our 
State," 1 suggesting, it is said, that if he had forbidden 
property in oxen or sheep he would certainly have 
spoken of it as " bovine and ovine wealth." 

Here we must quit this part of our subject, 
hoping, my dear friend Terentian, that your learned 
curiosity will be satisfied with this short excursion 
on the use of figures in their relation to the Sublime. 
All those which I have mentioned help to render a 
style more energetic and impassioned ; and passion 
contributes as largely to sublimity as the delineation 
of character to amusement. 


But since the thoughts conveyed by words and 
the expression of those thoughts are for the most 
part interwoven with one another, we will now add 
some considerations which have hitherto been over- 
looked on the subject of expression. To say that 
the choice of appropriate and striking words has a 
marvellous power and an enthralling charm for the 
reader, that this is the main object of pursuit with 
all orators and writers, that it is this, and this alone, 
which causes the works of literature to exhibit the 
glowing perfections of the finest statues, their grand - 

1 Be Legg. vii. 801, B. 


eur, their beauty, their mellowness, their dignity, 
their energy, their power, and all their other graces, 
and that it is this which endows the facts with a 
vocal soul ; to say all this would, I fear, be, to the 
initiated, an impertinence. Indeed, we may say 
with strict truth that beautiful words are the very 
light of thought. I do not mean to say that im- 
posing language is appropriate to every occasion. 
A trifling subject tricked out in grand and stately 
words would have the same effect as a huge tragic 
mask placed on the head of a little child. Only in 
poetry and . . . 


. . . There is a genuine ring in that line of 
Anacreon's — 

" The Thracian filly I no longer heed." 

The same merit belongs to that original phrase in 
Theophrastus ; to me, at least, from the closeness of 
its analogy, it seems to have a peculiar expressive- 
ness, though Caecilius censures it, without telling 
us why. "Philip," says the historian, "showed a 
marvellous alacrity in taking doses of trouble" 1 We 
see from this that the most homely language is 
sometimes far more vivid than the most ornamental, 
being recognised at once as the language of common 
life, and gaining immediate currency by its famili- 
1 See Note. 


arity. In speaking, then, of Philip as " taking doses 
of trouble," Theopompus has laid hold on a phrase 
which describes with peculiar vividness one who for 
the sake of advantage endured what was base and 
sordid with patience and cheerfulness. The same 
may be observed of two passages in Herodotus: 
" Oleomenes having lost his wits, cut his own flesh 
into pieces with a short sword, until by gradually 
mincing his whole body he destroyed himself " ; * and 
" Pythes continued fighting on his ship until he was 
entirely hacked to pieces" 2 Such terms come home 
at once to the vulgar reader, but their own vulgarity 
is redeemed by their expressiveness. 


Concerning the number of metaphors to be em- 
ployed together Caecilius seems to give his vote with 
those critics who make a law that not more than 
two, or at the utmost three, should be combined in 
the same place. The use, however, must be deter- 
mined by the occasion. Those outbursts of passion 
which drive onwards like a winter torrent draw with 
them as an indispensable accessory whole masses of 
metaphor. It is thus in that passage of Demosthenes 
(who here also is our safest guide) : 3 " Those vile 
fawning wretches, each one of whom has lopped from 

1 vi. 75. 2 vii. 181. 3 See Note. 


his country her fairest members, who have toasted 
away their liberty, first to Philip, now to Alexander, 
who measure happiness by their belly and their vilest 
appetites, who have overthrown the old landmarks 
and standards of felicity among Greeks, — to be free- 
men, and to have no one for a master." * Here the 
number of the metaphors is obscured by the orator's 
indignation against the betrayers of his country. 
And to effect this Aristotle and Theophrastus re- 
commend the softening of harsh metaphors by the 
use of some such phrase as " So to say," " As it were," 
" If I may be permitted the expression," " If so bold 
a term is allowable." For thus to forestall criticism 2 
mitigates, they assert, the boldness of the metaphors. 
And I will not deny that these have their use. 
Nevertheless I must repeat the remark which I made 
in the case of figures, 3 and maintain that there are 
native antidotes to the number and boldness of 
metaphors, in well-timed displays of strong feeling, 
and in unaffected sublimity, because these have an 
innate power by the dash of their movement of 
sweeping along and carrying all else before them. 
Or should we not rather say that they absolutely 
demand as indispensable the use of daring metaphors, 
and will not allow the hearer to pause and criticise 
the number of them, because he shares the passion 
of the speaker ? 

1 De Cot. 296. 2 Reading {/irvrlfiricris. 3 Ch. xvii. 


In the treatment, again, of familiar topics and 
in descriptive passages nothing gives such distinct- 
ness as a close and continuous series of metaphors. 
It is by this means that Xenophon has so finely 
delineated the anatomy of the human frame. 1 And 
there is a still more brilliant and life-like picture in 
Plato. 2 The human head he calls a citadel; the 
neck is an isthmus set to divide it from the chest ; 
to support it beneath are the vertebrae, turning like 
hinges ; pleasure he describes as a bait to tempt 
men to ill ; the tongue is the arbiter of tastes. The 
heart is at once the knot of the veins and the source 
of the rapidly circulating blood, and is stationed in 
the guard-room of the body. The ramifying blood- 
vessels he calls alleys. "And casting about," he 
says, " for something to sustain the violent palpita- 
tion of the heart when it is alarmed by the approach 
of danger or agitated by passion, since at such times 
it is overheated, they (the gods) implanted in us 
the lungs, which are so fashioned that being soft 
and bloodless, and having cavities within, they act 
like a buffer, and when the heart boils with inward 
passion by yielding to its throbbing save it from 
injury." He compares the seat of the desires to 
the women's quarters, the seat of the passions to the 
men's quarters, in a house. The spleen, again, is the 

1 Memorab, i. 4, 5. 

2 Timaeus, 69, D ; 74, A ; 65, C ; 72, G ; 74, B, D ; 80, E ; 
77, G ; 78, E ; 85, E. 


napkin of the internal organs, by whose excretions 
it is saturated from time to time, and swells to a 
great size with inward impurity. " After this/' he 
continues, " they shrouded the whole with flesh, 
throwing it forward, like a cushion, as a barrier 
against injuries from without." The blood he terms 
the pasture of the flesh. " To assist the process of 
nutrition," he goes on, " they divided the body into 
ducts, cutting trenches like those in a garden, so 
that, the body being a system of narrow conduits, 
the current of the veins might flow as from a 
perennial fountain-head. And when the end is at 
hand," he says, "the soul is cast loose from her 
moorings like a ship, and free to wander whither 
she will." These, and a hundred similar fancies, 6 
follow one another in quick succession. But those 
which I have pointed out are sufficient to demon- 
strate how great is the natural power of figurative 
language, and how largely metaphors conduce to 
sublimity, and to illustrate the important part which 
they play in all impassioned and descriptive 

That the use of figurative language, as of all 7 
other beauties of style, has a constant tendency 
towards excess, is an obvious truth which I need 
not dwell upon. It is chiefly on this account that 
even Plato comes in for a large share of disparage- 
ment, because he is often carried away by a sort of 


frenzy of language into an intemperate use of 
violent metaphors and inflated allegory. " It is not 
easy to remark " (he says in one place) " that a city 
ought to be blended like a bowl, in which the mad 
wine boils when it is poured out, but being discip- 
lined by another and a sober god in that fair society 
produces a good and temperate drink. 1 Keally, it is 
said, to speak of water as a " sober god," and of the 
process of mixing as a " discipline," is to talk like a 
poet, and no very sober one either. It was such 
defects as these that the hostile critic 2 Caecilius 
made his ground of attack, when he had the bold- 
ness in his essay " On the Beauties of Lysias " to 
pronounce that writer superior in every respect to 
Plato. Now Caecilius was doubly unqualified for a 
judge : he loved Lysias better even than himself, and 
at the same time his hatred of Plato and all his 
works is greater even than his love for Lysias. 
Moreover, he is so blind a partisan that his very 
premises are open to dispute. He vaunts Lysias as 
a faultless and immaculate writer, while Plato is, 
according to him, full of blemishes. ISTow this is not 
the case : far from it. 

1 Legg. vi. 773, G. 
2 Heading 6 fiicrwv aMv, by a conjecture of the translator. 



But supposing now that we assume the existence 
of a really unblemished and irreproachable writer. 
Is it not worth while to raise the whole question 
whether in poetry and prose we should prefer sub- 
limity accompanied by some faults, or a style which 
never rising above moderate excellence never 
stumbles and never requires correction? and again, 
whether the first place in literature is justly to be 
assigned to the more numerous, or the loftier excel- 
lences? For these are questions proper to an 
inquiry on the Sublime, and urgently asking for 

I know, then, that the largest intellects are far 2 
from being the most exact. A mind always intent 
on correctness is apt to be dissipated in trifles ; but 
in great affluence of thought, as in vast material 
wealth, there must needs be an occasional neglect of 
detail. And is it not inevitably so ? Is it not by 
risking nothing, by never aiming high, that a writer 
of low or middling powers keeps generally clear of 
faults and secure of blame ? whereas the loftier 
walks of literature are by their very loftiness 
perilous ? I am well aware, again, that there is a 3 
law by which in all human productions the weak 
points catch the eye first, by which their faults 


remain indelibly stamped on the memory, while their 
beauties quickly fade away. Yet, though I have 
myself noted not a few faulty passages in Homer 
and in other authors of the highest rank, and though 
I am far from being partial to their failings, never- 
theless I would call them not so much wilful 
blunders as oversights which were allowed to pass 
unregarded through that contempt of little things, 
that " brave disorder," which is natural to an exalted 
genius ; and I still think that the greater excel- 
lences, though not everywhere equally sustained, 
ought always to be voted to the first place in 
literature, if for no other reason, for the mere 
grandeur of soul they evince. Let us take an 
instance : Apollonius in his Argonautica has given 
us a poem actually faultless ; and in his pastoral 
poetry Theocritus is eminently happy, except when 
he occasionally attempts another style. And what 
then? Would you rather be a Homer or an 
Apollonius ? Or take Eratosthenes and his Erigone ; 
because that little work is without a flaw, is he 
therefore a greater poet than Archilochus, with all 
his disorderly profusion ? greater than that impetu- 
ous, that god-gifted genius, which chafed against 
the restraints of law ? or in lyric poetry would you 
choose to be a Bacchylides or a Pindar ? in tragedy 
a Sophocles or (save the mark !) an Io of Chios ? 
Yet Io and Bacchylides never stumble, their style is 


always neat, always pretty ; while Pindar and 
Sophocles sometimes move onwards with a wide 
blaze of splendour, but often drop out of view in 
sudden and disastrous eclipse. Nevertheless no one 
in his senses would deny that a single play of 
Sophocles, the Oedipus, is 'of higher value than all 
the dramas of Io put together. 


If the number and not the loftiness of an 
author's merits is to be our standard of success, 
judged by this test we must admit that Hyperides 
is a far superior orator to Demosthenes. For in 
Hyperides there is a richer modulation, a greater 
variety of excellence. He is, we may say, in every- 
thing second-best, like the champion of the pentathlon, 
who, though in every contest he has to yield the 
prize to some other combatant, is superior to the 
unpractised in all five. Not only has he rivalled 
the success of Demosthenes in everything but his 
manner of composition, but, as though that were 
not enough, he has taken in all the excellences and 
graces of Lysias as well. He knows when it is 
proper to speak with simplicity, and does not, like 
Demosthenes, continue the same key throughout. 
His touches of character are racy and sparkling, 
and full of a delicate flavour. Then how admirable 



is his wit, how polished his raillery ! How well-bred 
he is, how dexterous in the use of irony ! His jests 
are pointed, but without any of the grossness and 
vulgarity of the old Attic comedy. He is skilled 
in making light of an opponent's argument, full of a 
well-aimed satire which amuses while it stings ; 
and through all this there runs a pervading, may 
we not say, a matchless charm. He is most apt in 
moving compassion; his mythical digressions show 
a fluent ease, and he is perfect in bending his course 
and finding a way out of them without violence or 
effort. Thus when he tells the story of Leto he is 
really almost a poet ; and his funeral oration shows 
a declamatory magnificence to which I hardly know 
a parallel. Demosthenes, on the other hand, has no 
touches of character, none of the versatility, fluency, 
or declamatory skill of Hyperides. He is, in fact, 
almost entirely destitute of all those excellences 
which I have just enumerated. When he makes 
violent efforts to be humorous and witty, the only 
laughter he arouses is against himself; and the 
nearer he tries to get to the winning grace of 
Hyperides, the farther he recedes from it. Had he, 
for instance, attempted such a task as the little 
speech in defence of Phryne or Athenagoras, he 
would only have added to the reputation of his rival. 
Nevertheless all the beauties of Hyperides, however 
numerous, cannot make him sublime. He never 


exhibits strong feeling, lias little energy, rouses no 
emotion ; certainly he never kindles terror in the 
breast of his readers. But Demosthenes followed a 
great master, 1 and drew his consummate excellences, 
his high-pitched eloquence, his living passion, his 
copiousness, his sagacity, his speed — that mastery 
and power which can never be approached — from 
the highest of sources. These mighty, these heaven- 
sent gifts (I dare not call them human), he made 
his own both one and all. Therefore, I say, by the 
noble qualities which he does possess he remains 
supreme above all rivals, and throws a cloud over 
his failings, silencing by his thunders and blinding 
by his lightnings the orators of all ages. Yes, it 
would be easier to meet the lightning-stroke with 
steady eye than to gaze unmoved when his impas- 
sioned eloquence is sending out flash after flash. 


But in the case of Plato and Lysias there is, as 
I said, a further difference. Not only is Lysias 
vastly inferior to Plato in the degree of his merits, 
but in their" number as well ; and at the same time 
he is as far ahead of Plato in the number of his 
faults as he is behind in that of his merits. 

1 I.e. Thucydides. See the passage of Dionysius quoted in the 


What truth, then, was it that was present to 
those mighty spirits of the past, who, making what- 
ever is greatest in writing their aim, thought it 
beneath them to be exact in every detail? Among 
many others especially this, that it was not in 
nature's plan for us her chosen children to be 
creatures base and ignoble, — no, she brought us into 
life, and into the whole universe, as into some great 
field of contest, that we should be at once spectators 
and ambitious rivals of her mighty deeds, and from 
the first implanted in our souls an invincible yearn- 
ing for all that is great, all that is diviner than 
ourselves. Therefore even the whole world is not 
wide enough for the soaring range of human thought, 
but man's mind often overleaps the very bounds of 
space. 1 When we survey the whole circle of life, 
and see it abounding everywhere in what is elegant, 
grand, and beautiful, we learn at once what is the 
true end of man's being. And this is why nature 
prompts us to admire, not the clearness and useful- 
ness of a little stream, but the Mle, the Danube, 
the Bhine, and far beyond all the Ocean ; not to 
turn our wandering eyes from the heavenly fires, 
though often darkened, to the little flame kindled 
by human hands, however pure and steady its light ; 
not to think that tiny lamp more wondrous than 

1 Comp. Lucretius on Epicurus : " Ergo vivida vis animi pervicit, 
et extra Processit longe flammantia moenia mundi," etc. 


the caverns of Aetna, from whose raging depths 
are hurled up stones and whole masses of rock, and 
torrents sometimes come pouring from earth's centre 
of pure and living fire. 

To sum the whole : whatever is useful or need- 
ful lies easily within man's reach ; but he keeps 
his homage for what is astounding. 


How much more do these principles apply to the 
Sublime in literature, where grandeur is never, as it 
sometimes is in nature, dissociated from utility and 
advantage. Therefore all those who have achieved 
it, however far from faultless, are still more than 
mortal. When a writer uses any other resource he 
shows himself to be a man ; but the Sublime lifts 
him near to the great spirit of the Deity. He who 
makes no slips must be satisfied with negative appro- 
bation, but he who is sublime commands positive 
reverence. Why need I add that each one of those 
great writers often redeems all his errors by one 
grand and masterly stroke ? But the strongest point 
of all is that, if you were to pick out all the blunders 
of Homer, Demosthenes, Plato, and all the greatest 
names in literature, and add them together, they 
would be found to bear a very small, or rather an 
infinitesimal proportion to the passages in which 


these supreme masters have attained absolute per- 
fection. Therefore it is that all posterity, whose 
judgment envy herself cannot impeach, has brought 
and bestowed on them the crown of glory, has guarded 
their fame until this day against all attack, and is 
likely to preserve it 

" As long as lofty trees shall grow, 
And restless waters seaward flow." 

3 It has been urged by one writer that we should 
not prefer the huge disproportioned Colossus to the 
Doryphorus of Polycletus. But (to give one out of 
many possible answers) in art we admire exactness, 
in the works of nature magnificence ; and it is from 
nature that man derives the faculty of speech. 
Whereas, then, in statuary we look for close resem- 
blance to humanity, in literature we require sonie- 

4 thing which transcends humanity. Nevertheless (to 
reiterate the advice which we gave at the beginning 
of this essay), since that success which consists in 
avoidance of error is usually the gift of art, while 
high, though unequal excellence is the attribute of 
genius, it is proper on all occasions to call in art as 
an ally to nature. By the combined resources of 
these two we may hope to achieve perfection. 

Such are the conclusions which were forced upon 
me concerning the points at issue ; but every one 
may consult his own taste. 



To return, however, from this long digression ; 
closely allied to metaphors are comparisons and 
similes, differing only in this * * * 1 


Such absurdities as, " Unless you carry your 
brains next to the ground in your heels." 2 Hence 
it is necessary to know where to draw the line ; for 
if ever it is overstepped the effect of the hyperbole 
is spoilt, being in such cases relaxed by overstraining, 
and producing the very opposite to the effect desired. 
Isocrates, for instance, from an ambitious desire of 
lending everything a strong rhetorical colouring, 
shows himself in quite a childish light. Having in 
his Panegyrical Oration set himself to prove that the 
Athenian state has surpassed that of Sparta in her 
services to Hellas, he starts off at the very outset 
with these words : " Such is the power of language that 
it can extenuate what is great, and lend greatness to 
what is little, give freshness to what is antiquated, 
and describe what is recent so that it seems to be of 
the past." 3 Come, Isocrates (it might be asked), is 

1 The asterisks denote gaps in the original text. 
2 Pseud. Dem. de Halon. 45. 3 Paneg. 8. 


it thus that you are going to tamper with the facts 
about Sparta and Athens ? This flourish about the 
power of language is like a signal hung out to warn 
his audience not to believe him. We may repeat 
here what we said about figures, and say that the 
hyperbole is then most effective when it appears in 
disguise. 1 And this effect is produced when a writer, 
impelled by strong feeling, speaks in the accents of 
some tremendous crisis ; as Thucydides does in 
describing the massacre in Sicily. " The Syracusans/' 
he says, "went down after them, and slew those 
especially who were in the river, and the water was 
at once defiled, yet still they went on drinking it, 
though mingled with mud and gore, most of them 
even fighting for it." 2 The drinking of mud and 
gore, and even the fighting for it, is made credible 
by the awful horror of the scene described. Similarly 
Herodotus on those who fell at Thermopylae : " Here 
as they fought, those who still had them, with daggers, 
the rest with hands and teeth, the barbarians buried 
them under their javelins." 3 That they fought with 
the teeth against heavy-armed assailants, and that 
they were buried with javelins, are perhaps hard 
sayings, but not incredible, for the reasons already 
explained. "We can see that these circumstances 
have not been dragged in to produce a hyperbole, 
but that the hyperbole has grown naturally out of 

1 xvii. 1. 2 Thuc. vii. 84. s vii. 225. 


the circumstances. For, as I am never tired of 5 
explaining, in actions and passions verging on frenzy 
there lies a kind of remission and palliation of any 
licence of language. Hence some comic extrava- 
gances, however improbable, gain credence by their 
humour, such as — 

" He had a farm, a little farm, where space severely 
pinches ; 
'Twas smaller than the last despatch from Sparta by some 

For mirth is one of the passions, having its seat in 6 
pleasure. And hyperboles may be employed either 
to increase or to lessen — since exaggeration is common 
to both uses. Thus in extenuating an opponent's 
argument we try to make it seem smaller than it is. 


We have still left, my dear sir, the fifth of those 
sources which we set down at the outset as contri- 
buting to sublimity, that which consists in the mere 
arrangement of words in a certain order. Having 
already published two books dealing fully with this 
subject- — so far at least as our investigations had 
carried us — it will be sufficient for the purpose of 
our present inquiry to add that harmony is an 
instrument which has a natural power, not only to 
win and to delight, but also in a remarkable degree 


to exalt the soul and sway the heart of man. When 
we see that a flute kindles certain emotions in its 
hearers, rendering them almost beside themselves 
and full of an orgiastic frenzy, and that by starting 
some kind of rhythmical beat it compels him who 
listens to move in time and assimilate his gestures 
to the tune, even though he has no taste whatever 
for music ; when we know that the sounds of a harp, 
which in themselves have no meaning, by the change 
of key, by the mutual relation of the notes, and their 
arrangement in symphony, often lay a wonderful spell 
on an audience — though these are mere shadows and 
spurious imitations of persuasion, not, as I have said, 
genuine manifestations of human nature : — can we 
doubt that composition (being a kind of harmony of 
that language which nature has taught us, and which 
reaches, not our ears only, but our very souls), when 
it raises changing forms of words, of thoughts, of 
actions, of beauty, of melody, all of which are 
engrained in and akin to ourselves, and when by the 
blending of its manifold tones it brings home to the 
minds of those who stand by the feelings present to 
the speaker, and ever disposes the hearer to sympa- 
thise with those feelings, adding word to word, until 
it has raised a majestic and harmonious structure : — 
can we wonder if all this enchants us, wherever we 
meet with it, and filling us with the sense of pomp 
and dignity and sublimity, and whatever else it 


embraces, gains a complete mastery over our minds ? 
It would be mere infatuation to join issue on truths 
so universally acknowledged, and established by ex- 
perience beyond dispute. 1 

Now to give an instance : that is doubtless a 
sublime thought, indeed wonderfully fine, which 
Demosthenes applies to his decree : tovto to 
tytfcfrio-fia top rore rfj iroXei Trepccrravra icivhvvov 
irapekOelv eiroirjcrev cocnrep vecfios, " This decree 
caused the danger which then hung round our city 
to pass away like a cloud." But the modulation is 
as perfect as the sentiment itself is weighty. It is 
uttered wholly in the dactylic measure, the noblest 
and most magnificent of all measures, and hence 
forming the chief constituent in the finest metre we 
know, the heroic. [And it is with great judgment 
that the words Sairep vecfios are reserved till the 
end. 2 ] Supposing we transpose them from their 
proper place and read, say tovto to ^^cfyio-fia &airep 
v£(j)o$ iiroirjae top tots icivhvvov irapekOelv — nay, 
let us merely cut off one syllable, reading eiroir)o-e 
TrapeXOetv a>9 vefyos — and you will understand how 
close is the urfison between harmony and sublimity. 
In the passage before us the words &airep vecfros 
move first in a heavy measure, which is metrically 
equivalent to four short syllables : but on removing 

1 Reading dXX' Zoikc [xavlq,, and putting a full stop at irians. 

2 There is a break here in the text ; but the context indicates 
the sense of the words lost, which has accordingly been supplied. 


one .syllable, and reading co? vefyos, the grandeur of 
movement is at once crippled by the abridgment. 
So conversely if you lengthen into cbcnrepel vefyos, 
the meaning is still the same, but it does not strike 
the ear in the same manner, because by lingering 
over the final syllables you at once dissipate and 
relax the abrupt grandeur of the passage. 


There is another method very efficient in exalting 
a style. As the different members of the body, 
none of which, if severed from its connection, has 
any intrinsic excellence, unite by their mutual 
combination to form a complete and perfect 
organism, so also the elements of a fine passage, by 
Avhose separation from one another its high quality 
is simultaneously dissipated and evaporates, when 
joined in one organic whole, and still further 
compacted by the bond of harmony, by the mere 
rounding of the period gain power of tone. In fact, 
a clause may be said to derive its sublimity from 
the joint contributions of a number of particulars. 
And further (as we have shown at large elsewhere), 
many writers in prose and verse, though their 
natural powers were not high, were perhaps even 
low, and though the terms they employed were 
usually common and popular and conveying no 


impression of refinement, by the mere harmony of 
their composition have attained dignity and elevation, 
and avoided the appearance of meanness. Such 
among many others are Philistus, Aristophanes 
occasionally, Euripides almost always. Thus when 
Heracles says, after the murder of his children, 
" I'm full of woes, I have no room for more," 1 
the words are quite common, but they are made 
sublime by being cast in a fine mould. By changing 
their position you will see that the poetical quality 
of Euripides depends more on his arrangement than 
on his thoughts. Compare his lines on Dirce 
dragged by the bull — 

a Whatever crossed his path, 
Caught in his victim's form, he seized, and dragging 
Oak, woman, rock, now here, now there, he flies." 2 

The circumstance is noble in itself, but it gains in 
vigour because the language is disposed so as not to 
hurry the movement, not running, as it were, on 
wheels, because there is a distinct stress on each 
word, and the time is delayed, advancing slowly to 
a pitch of stately sublimity. 


Nothing so much degrades the tone of a style as 
an effeminate and hurried movement in the language, 
1 H. F. 1245. 2 Antiope (Nauck, 222). 


such as is produced by pyrrhics and trochees and 
dichorees falling in time together into a regular 
dance measure. Such abuse of rhythm is sure to 
savour of coxcombry and petty affectation, and 
grows tiresome in the highest degree by a monotonous 
sameness of tone. But its worst effect is that, as 
those who listen to a ballad have their attention 
distracted from its subject and can think of nothing 
but the tune, so an over-rhythmical passage does not 
affect the hearer by the meaning of its words, but 
merely by their cadence, so that sometimes, knowing 
where the pause must come, they beat time with the 
speaker, striking the expected close like dancers 
before the stop is reached. Equally undignified is 
the splitting up of a sentence into a number of little 
words and short syllables crowded too closely 
together and forced into cohesion,— hammered, as it 
were, successively together, — -after the manner of 
mortice and tenon. 1 


Sublimity is further diminished by cramping the 
diction. Deformity instead of grandeur ensues 
from over- compression. Here I am not referring to 
a judicious compactness of phrase, but to a style 

1 I must refer to Weiske's Note, which. I have followed, for the 
probable interpretation of this extraordinary passage. 


which is dwarfed, and its force frittered away. To 
cut your words too short is to prune away their 
sense, but to be concise is to be direct. On the 
other hand, we know that a style becomes lifeless 
by over-extension, I mean by being relaxed to an 
unseasonable length. 


The use of mean words has also a strong tendency 
to degrade a lofty passage. Thus in that description 
of the storm in Herodotus the matter is admirable, 
but some of the words admitted are beneath the 
dignity of the subject ; such, perhaps, as " the seas 
having seethed" because the ill-sounding phrase 
" having seethed " detracts much from its impress- 
iveness : or when he says " the wind wore away," 
and " those who clung round the wreck met with an 
unwelcome end." x " Wore away " is ignoble and 
vulgar, and " unwelcome " inadequate to the extent 
of the disaster. 

Similarly Theopompus, after giving a fine picture 
of the Persian king's descent against Egypt, has 
exposed the whole to censure by certain paltry 
expressions. " There was no city, no people of Asia, 
which did not send an embassy to the king; no 
product of the earth, no work of art, whether beau- 
1 Hdt. vii. 188, 191, 13. 


tiful or precious, which was not among the gifts 
brought to him. Many and costly were the hang- 
ings and robes, some purple, some embroidered, 
some white ; many the tents, of cloth of gold, 
furnished with all things useful ; many the 
tapestries and couches of great price. Moreover, 
there was gold and silver plate richly wrought, 
goblets and bowls, some of which might be seen 
studded with gems, and others besides worked in 
relief with great skill and at vast expense. 
Besides these there were suits of armour in number 
past computation, partly Greek, partly foreign, 
endless trains of baggage animals and fat cattle for 
slaughter, many bushels of spices, many panniers 
and sacks and sheets of writing-paper ; and all other 
necessaries in the same proportion. And there was 
salt meat of all kinds of beasts in immense quantity, 
heaped together to such a height as to show at a 
distance like mounds and hills thrown up one 
against another. " He runs off from the grander 
parts of his subject to the meaner, and sinks where 
he ought to rise. Still worse, by his mixing up 
panniers and spices and hags with his wonderful 
recital of that vast and busy scene one would 
imagine that he was describing a kitchen. Let us 
suppose that in that show of magnificence some one 
had taken a set of wretched baskets and bags and 
placed them in the midst, among vessels of gold, 


jewelled bowls, silver plate, and tents and goblets 
of gold ; how incongruous would have seemed the 
effect ! Now just in the same way these petty 
words, introduced out of season, stand out like de- 
formities and blots on the diction. These details 
might have been given in one or two broad strokes, 
as when he speaks of mounds being heaped together. 
So in dealing with the other preparations he might 
have told us of " waggons and camels and a long 
train of baggage animals loaded with all kinds of 
supplies for the luxury and enjoyment of the table/' 
or have mentioned " piles of grain of every species, 
and of all the choicest delicacies required by the art 
of the cook or the taste of the epicure," or (if he 
must needs be so very precise) he might have 
spoken of " whatever dainties are supplied by those 
who lay or those who dress the banquet/' In our 
sublimer efforts we should never stoop to what is 
sordid and despicable, unless very hard pressed by 
some urgent necessity. If we would write becom- 
ingly, our utterance should be worthy of our theme. 
We should take a lesson from nature, who when 
she planned the human frame did not set our 
grosser parts, or the ducts for purging the body, 
in our face, but as far as she could concealed them, 
" diverting," as Xenophon says, " those canals as far 
as possible from our senses," 1 and thus shunning 

1 Mem. i. 4. 6. 


In any part to mar the beauty of the whole 

However, it is not incumbent on us to specify 
and enumerate whatever diminishes a style. We 
have now pointed out the various means of giving 
it' nobility and loftiness. It is clear, then, that 
whatever is contrary to these will generally degrade 
and deform it. 


There is still another point which remains to be 
cleared up, my dear Terentian, and on which I shall 
not hesitate to add some remarks, to gratify your 
inquiring spirit. It relates to a question which was 
recently put to me by a certain philosopher. " To 
me," he said, "in common, I may say, with many 
others, it is a matter of wonder that in the present 
age, which produces many highly skilled in the arts 
of popular persuasion, many of keen and active 
powers, many especially rich in every pleasing gift 
of language, the growth of highly exalted and wide- 
reaching genius has with a few rare exceptions 
almost entirely ceased. So universal is the dearth 
of eloquence which prevails throughout the world. 
Must we really," he asked, " give credit to that oft- 
repeated assertion that democracy is the kind nurse 
of genius, and that high literary excellence has 


flourished with her prime and faded with her decay ? 
Liberty, it is said, is all-powerful to feed the aspira- 
tions of high intellects, to hold out hope, and keep 
alive the flame of mutual rivalry and ambitious 
struggle for the highest place. Moreover, the prizes 
which are offered in every free state keep the spirits 
of her foremost orators whetted by perpetual 
exercise; 1 they are, as it were, ignited by friction, 
and naturally blaze forth freely because they are 
surrounded by freedom. But we of to-day," he 
continued, " seem to have learnt in our childhood 
the lessons of a benignant despotism, to have been 
cradled in her habits and customs from the time 
when our minds were still tender, and never to 
have tasted the fairest and most fruitful fountain 
of eloquence, I mean liberty. Hence we develop 
nothing but a fine genius for flattery. This is the 
reason why, though all other faculties are consistent 
with the servile condition, no slave ever became an 
orator ; because in him there is a dumb spirit which 
will not be kept down : his soul is chained : he is 
like one who has learnt to be ever expecting a blow. 
Tor, as Homer says — 

" ' The day of slavery 
Takes half our manly worth away/ 2 

As, then (if what I have heard is credible), the cages 

1 Comp. Pericles in Thuc. ii., &&\a yhp oh Ktirai dper^s fjiAyiara 
tj?s d£ Kal &vdpes dpicrra Trokireijovcnv. 
3 Od. xvii. 322. 


in which those pigmies commonly called dwarfs are 
reared not only stop the growth of the imprisoned 
creature, but absolutely make him smaller by com- 
pressing every part of his body, so all despotism, 
however equitable, may be defined as a cage of the 
soul and a general prison." 

My answer was as follows : " My dear friend, 
it is so easy, and so characteristic of human nature, 
always to find fault with the present. 1 Consider, 
now, whether the corruption of genius is to be 
attributed, not to a world-wide peace, 2 but rather to 
the war within us which knows no limit, which 
engages all our desires, yes, and still further to 
the bad passions which lay siege to us to-day, and 
make utter havoc and spoil of our lives. Are we not 
enslaved, nay, are not our careers completely ship- 
wrecked, by love of gain, that fever which rages 
unappeased in us all, and love of pleasure ?— 
one the most debasing, the other the most ignoble 
of the mind's diseases. When I consider it 
I can find no means by which we, who hold in 
such high honour, or, to speak more correctly, 
who idolise boundless riches, can close the door of 
our souls against those evil spirits which grow up 
with them. Eor Wealth unmeasured and unbridled 

1 Comp. Byron, " The good old times, — all times when old are 

2 A euphemism for u a world-wide tyranny." 


is dogged by Extravagance : she sticks close to him, 
and treads in his footsteps : and as soon as he opens 
the gates of cities or of houses she enters with him 
and makes her abode with him. And after a time 
they build their nests (to use a wise man's 
words *) in that corner of life, and speedily set about 
breeding, and beget Boastfulness, and Vanity, and 
Wantonness, no base-born children, but their very 
own. And if these also, the offspring of Wealth, 
be allowed to come to their prime, quickly they 
engender in the soul those pitiless tyrants, Violence, 
and Lawlessness, and Shamelessness. Whenever a 
man takes to worshipping what is mortal and 
irrational 2 in him, and neglects to cherish what is 
immortal, these are the inevitable results. He 
never looks up again ; he has lost all care for good 
report ; by slow degrees the ruin of his life goes on, 
until it is consummated all round ; all that is great 
in his soul fades, withers away, and is despised. 

" If a judge who passes sentence for a bribe can 
never more give a free and sound decision on a 
point of justice or honour (for to him who takes a 
bribe honour and justice must be measured by his 
own interests), how can we of to-day expect, when 
the whole life of each one of us is controlled by 
bribery, while we lie in wait for other men's death 
and plan how to get a place in their wills, when 

1 Plato, Rep, ix. 573, E. 2 Reading /cd^ra. 


we buy gain, from whatever source, each one of us, 
with our very souls in our slavish greed, how, I say, 
can we expect, in the midst of such a moral pesti- 
lence, that there is still left even one liberal and 
impartial critic, whose verdict will not be biassed 
by avarice in judging of those great works which 

10 live on through all time ? Alas ! I fear that for 
such men as we are it is better to serve than to be 
free. If our appetites were let loose altogether 
against our neighbours, they would be like wild 
beasts uncaged, and bring a deluge of calamity on 
the whole civilised world." 

11 I ended by remarking generally that the genius 
of the present age is wasted by that indifference 
which with a few exceptions runs through the whole 
of life. If we ever shake off our apathy 1 and apply 
ourselves to work, it is always with a view to 
pleasure or applause, not for that solid advantage 
which is worthy to be striven for and held in 

12 We had better then leave this generation to its 
fate, and turn to what follows, which is the subject 
of the passions, to which we promised early in this 
treatise to devote a separate work. 2 They play an 
important part in literature generally, and especially 
in relation to the Sublime. 

1 Com p. Thuc. vi. 26. 2, for this sense of &va\afi(3dveip. 
3 iii. 5. 


I. 2. 10. There seems to be an antithesis implied in 
7ro\iTLKofc reOeayprjKevai, referring to the well-known dis- 
tinction between the 7rpaKTiK.os /3tos and the OeaiprjTiKos 

4. 27. I have ventured to return to the original reading, 
8ie(£toTicr€v, though all editors seem to have adopted the 
correction 8i€<j>6prjcreVy on account, I suppose, of (tktjtttov. 
To illumine a large subject, as a landscape is lighted up at 
night by a flash of lightning, is surely a far more vivid and 
intelligible expression than to sweep away a subject. 1 

III. 2. 17. <fiop/3eLas 8'ctTep, lit. " without a cheek-strap," 
which was worn by trumpeters to assist them in regulating 
their breath. The line is contracted from two of Sophocles's, 
and Longinus's point is that the extravagance of Cleitarchus 
is not that of a strong but ill-regulated nature, but the ludi- 
crous straining after grandeur of a writer at once feeble and 

Kuhnken gives an extract from some inedited " versus 
politici" of Tzetzes, in which are some amusing specimens 
of those felicities of language Longinus is here laughing at. 
Stones are the "bones," rivers the "veins," of the earth; 
the moon is " the sigma of the sky" (C the old form of 2) ; 

1 Comp. for the metaphor Goethe, DicMung unci Wahrheit, B 8. 
"Wie vor einem Blitz erleuchteten sich uns alle Folgen dieses 
herrlichen Gedankens." 


sailors, " the ants of ocean " ; the strap of a pedlar's pack, 
5 'the girdle of his load"; pitch, "the ointment of doors," 
and so on. 

IV. 4. 4. The play upon the double meaning of i<6pa, 
(1) maiden, (2) pupil of the eye, can hardly be kept in 
English. It is worthy of remark that our text of Xenophon 
has ev tols 6a\dfioL$ P a perfectly natural expression. Such 
a variation would seem to point to a very early corruption 
of ancient manuscripts, or to extraordinary inaccuracy on 
the part of Longinus, who, indeed, elsewhere displays great 
looseness of citation, confusing together totally different 

9. Itoljllov. I can make nothing of this word. Various 
corrections have been suggested, but with little certainty. 

5. 10. tos cf)wpiov tivos ecjxnrTOfievoSi literally, " as 
though he were laying hands on a piece of stolen property." 
The point seems to he, that plagiarists, like other robbers, 
show no discrimination in their pilferings, seizing what comes 
first to hand. 

VIII. 1. 20. iSdfjyovs. I have avoided the rather harsh 
confusion of metaphor which this word involves, taken in 
connection with 7rrjya[. 

IX. 2. 13. a7T^x^«j properly an "echo," a metaphor 
rather Greek than English. 

X. 2. 13. x^ M P or *P a &e Troias, lit. "more wan than 
grass "—of the sickly yellow hue which would appear on a 
dark Southern face under the influence of violent emotion. 1 

3. 6. The words rj yap . . . reOvrjKev are omitted in the 
translation, being corrupt, and giving no satisfactory sense. 
Ruhnken corrects, aAoyto-ret, cfjpovei, irroeira^ r) tt. 6. r. 

1 The notion of yellowness, as associated with grass, is made in- 
telligible by a passage in Longus, i. 17. 19. xkupbrepov rb irpbo-wirov 
3}v iroas depivrjs. 


18. (TTrXayyyouTL Ka/cws dva/3aXXofievoi(rt. Probably of 
sea-sickness ; and so I find Ruhnken took it, quoting 
Plutarch, T. ii. 831 : Z/jlovvtos tov ertpov, koX Xeyovros rd 
cnrXdy^va ii<fidXXeiv. An objection on the score of taste 
would be out of place in criticising the laureate of the 

X. 7. 2. rds e£o\as dpiVTivSrjv €KKa6rjpavTe<s. dpi(TTiv$r)v 
iKKadrjpavres appears to be a condensed phrase for dpLcrriv8rjv 
6KAi£avTes koX €KKa$y]pavT€S. " Having chosen the most 
striking circumstances par excellence, and having relieved 
them of all superfluity," would perhaps give the literal 
meaning. Longinus seems conscious of some strangeness in 
his language, making a quasi -apology in ws dv etVrot 


3. Partly with the help of To up, we may emend this 
corrupt passage as follows : XvpLaivtrcu yap Tavra to oXov, 
(ocravel xprjypLara rj dpatw/xara, rot ijuLTroiovvra pbtyeOos rrj 
Trpbs dXXrjXa vyta-ei o-vurerei^icrpbeva. to oAov here — 
"omnino." To explain the process of corruption, rd would 
easily drop out after the final -to. in dpai^p.ara ; ctvvolkovo- 
fjiovjjL€va is simply a corruption of crvvoiKoSopLovpieva^ which 
is itself a gloss on o-vvrereL^Lcr^va^ having afterwards crept 
into the text ; fxeyeOos became corrupted into fieyWr} through 
the error of some copyist, who wished to make it agree with 
€fjL7roiovvra. The whole may be translated : " Such [inter- 
polations], like so many patches or rents, mar altogether the 
effect of those details which, by being built up in an unin- 
terrupted series [rrj irpbs aXXrjXa o~^. ctdi/tct.], produce sub- 
limity in a work." 

XII. 4. 2. Iv airro) ; the sense seems clearly to require 
kv avrcp. 

XIV. 3. 16. pLY) . . . vweprjpLepov. Most of the editors 
insert ov before (^Oky^airo^ thus ruining the sense of this fine 


passage! Longinus lias just said that a writer should always 
work with an eye to posterity. If (he acids) he thinks of 
nothing but the taste and judgment of his contemporaries, 
he will have no chance of "leaving something so written 
that the world will not willingly let it die." A book, then, 
which is tov ISlov fSiov ko2 ^povov vweprjixepos, is a book 
which is in advance of its own times. Such were the poems 
of Lucretius, of Milton, of Wordsworth. 1 

XV. 5. 23. iroKoeiSeis kcll dfiaX&KTovs, lit. "like raw, 
undressed wool." 

XVII. 1. 25. I construct the infinit. with vttotttov, 
though the ordinary interpretation joins to Sea o-xqfJLaTwv 
iravovpyeiv : " proprium est verborum lenociniis suspicionem 
movere" (Weiske). 

2. 8. TrapaXrj^Oetcra. This word has given much trouble ; 
but is it not simply a continuation of the metaphor implied 
in eiriKovpia ? 7rapa\a{ij3aveiv riva, in the sense of calling 
in an ally, is a common enough use. This would be clearer 
if we could read irapaXiq^deio-i. I have omitted tov 
iravovpyeiv in translating, as it seems to me to have evi- 
dently crept in from above (p. 33, L 25). rj tov 7ravovpye.iv 
Tex v7 1> " ^ ne ap t °f Paying the villain," is surely, in 
Longinus's own words, Seivbv koli €K<j)vXov^ "a startling 
novelty " of language. 

12. tw (fxorl o/utoL The words may remind us of 
Shelley's " Like a poet hidden in the light of thought." 

XVIII. 1. 24. The distinction between never i<$ or 7rvcr{jLa 
and €pa>Trjo~iS or e/owT^/ia is said to be that epLOTycns is a 

1 Compare the "Gefliigelte Worte" in the Vorspiel to Goethe's 
Faust : 

Was glanzt, ist fur den Augenblick geboren, 
Das Aeehte bleibt der Nachwelt unverloren. 


simple question, which, can be answered yes or no ; nevcris a 
fuller inquiry, requiring a fuller answer. Aquila Eomanus 
in libro de figuris sententiarum et elocutionis, § 1 2 (Weiske). 

XXXI. 1. 11. dvayKocjyayrjo-ai) properly of the fixed 
diet of athletes, which seems to have been excessive in 
quantity, and sometimes nauseous in quality. I do not 
know what will be thought of my rendering here ; it is 
certainly not elegant, but it was necessary to provide some 
sort of equivalent to the Greek. "Swallow," which the 
other translators give, is quite inadequate. We require a 
threefold combination — (1) To swallow (2) something nasty 
(3) for the sake of prospective advantage. 

XXXII. 1. 3. The text is in great confusion here. Fol- 
lowing a hint in Vahlin's critical note, I have transposed the 
words thus: 6 Katpbs Se rrjs \pecas opos* evOa rd 7rddrj 
\€ifxdppov Siktjv iXavvtrai, Kal tyjv TroXvTrXrjO uav avrcov 
w$ dvayKaiav ivravOa orvve^eXKerai' 6 yap A., opbs Kal twv 

TOtOVTWV, dv0p(i)7TOl 9 (jiYjCTlV, K.T.X. 

8. 16. Some words have probably been lost here. The 
sense of irXrjv, and the absence of antithesis to oirros fxev, 
point in this direction. The original reading may have been 
something of this sort : irXr)v ovtos /xev V7rb c^iAoi/etfaas 
iraprjyero* dXX' ov$e rd Qkp,ara tWyjctiv opboXoyovpLeva, 
the sense being that, though we may allow something to the 
partiality of Caecilius, yet this does not excuse him from 
arguing on premises which are unsound. 

XXXIV. 4. 10. 6 Se evdev eXitv, k.t.X. Probably the 
darkest place in the whole treatise. Toup cites a remark- 
able passage from Dionysius of Halicarnassus, from which 
we may perhaps conclude that Longinus is referring here 
to Thucydides, the traditional master of Demosthenes. De 
Thucyd. § 53, 'P^ropcoi/ 8e ArjfxocrOevrjs jjlovos BovkvSISov 
fyXoyrbs eykvero Kara woXXd, Kal TrpowkdrjKe. rots 7toXitlkoi$ 


Aoyois, Trap' eKeivov Aa/3wv, as ovre 'Avrt^xuv, oiJtc Atxrtas, 
oirre 'lo-oKparrjS, ot TrpwrevcravTes tcov Tore pyjropoiv, ttrypv 
a/xras, rot rd\rj Aeyco, Kac t<xs o~vo~rpo(f}ds, kclI tovs tovovs, 
koI to crTpv<l>v6v, kcu TrjV zj-eyelpovcrav rd 7rd0rj SetvoT^Ta. 
So close a parallel can hardly be accidental 

XXXV. 4. 5. Longinus probably bad his eye on the 
splendid lines in Pindar's First Pythian : rds [AtVvas] 
ipevyovrat fxev aTrXdrov Trvpbs dyvorarai | £k {ivyjidv rrayat, 
rrorafiol S' | dfiepatcriv fiev irpoyiovri poov KaTrvov—aWcov^ ' 
aAA' iv opcfivato-LV rrerpas | cjyotvicro-a KvXivSopieva <£Ao£ £$ 
/3a0et- | av <jyepei ttovtov irXaKa crvv irardyu), which I find 
has also been pointed out by Toup, who remarks that 
dyvorarai confirms the reading avrov jjlovov here, which has 
been suspected without reason. 

XXXVIII. 2.7. Comp. Plato, Phaedrus, 267, A: Tiow 
Be Yopylav re idcropLtv evSeiv^ ot rrpo twv dXrjOwv rd 
eiKora €i8ov d)s TLfJLTjTea /xaAAov, Ta re av crfiiKpd fieyaXa 
Kal rd yuiyaAa cr/jLLKpd ttolovcti (pacveo-Qat 8td p(ofJL7)V Xoyov, 
Kauvd re dpyalm rd r evavria Katvws^ orvvrofxtav re Aoywi/ 
Kal drreipa p^rjKiq Trepl irdvriov dvevpov, 



Ammonius. — Alexandrian grammarian, carried on the 
school of Aristarchus previously to the reign of Augustus. 
The allusion here is to a work on the passages in which 
Plato has imitated Homer. (Suidas, s.v. ; Schol. on Horn. II. 
ix. 540, quoted by Jahn.) 

Amphikrates. — Author of a book On Famous Men, referred 
to by Athenaeus, xiii. 576, G, and Diog. Laert. ii. 101. C. 
Muller, Hist. Gr. Fragm. iv. p. 300, considers him to be the 
Athenian rhetorician who, according to Plutarch (Lucullus, 
c. 22), retired to Seleucia, and closed his life at the Court of 
Kleopatra, daughter of Mithridates and wife of Tigranes 
(Pauly, Real-EncyclopadiedercktssischenAlterthumsivissenschaft). 
Plutarch tells a story illustrative of his arrogance. Being 
asked by the Seleucians to open a school of rhetoric, he 
replied, "A dish is not large enough for a dolphin" (ws 
ovSe XeKavrj SeXcfriva yjapoirj), v. Luculli, c. 22, quoted by 

Aristeas. — A name involved in a mist of fable. Accord- 
ing to Suidas he was a contemporary of Kroesus, though 
Herodotus assigns to him a much remoter antiquity. The 
latter authority describes him as visiting the northern 
peoples of Europe and recording his travels in an epic poem, 


a fragment of which is given here by Longiims. The 
passage before us appears to be intended as the words of 
some Arimaspian, who, as belonging to a remote inland race, 
expresses his astonishment that any men could be found 
bold enough to commit themselves to the mercy of the sea, 
and tries to describe the terror of human beings placed in 
such a situation (Pearce ad. 1. ; Abicht on Hdt. iv. 12; 
Suidas, s.v.) 

Bakchylides, nephew and pupil of the great Simonides, 
flourished about 460 B.C. He followed his uncle to the 
Court of Hiero at Syracuse, and enjoyed the patronage of 
that despot. After Hiero's death he returned to his home 
in Keos ; but finding himself discontented with the mode of 
life pursued in a free Greek community, for which his 
experiences at Hiero's Court may well have disqualified him, 
he retired to Peloponnesus, where he died. His works 
comprise specimens of almost every kind of lyric composition, 
as practised by the Greeks of his time. Horace is said to 
have imitated him in his Prophecy of Nereus, c. I. xv. (Pauly, 
as above). So far as we can judge from what remains of his 
works, he was distinguished rather by elegance than by 
force. A considerable fragment on the Blessings of Peace 
has been translated by Mr. J. A. Symonds in his work on 
the Greek poets. He is made the subject of a very bitter 
allusion by Pindar (01. ii. s. fin. c. Schol.) We may suppose 
that the stern and lofty spirit of Pindar had little sympathy 
with the " tearful " (Catullus, xxxviii.) strains of Simonides or 
his imitators. 

Caecilius, a native of Kale Akte in Sicily, and hence 
known as Caecilius Kalaktinus, lived in Eome at the time of 
Augustus. He is mentioned with distinction as a learned 
Greek rhetorician and grammarian, and was the author of 
numerous works, frequently referred to by Plutarch and 
other later writers. He may be regarded as one of the most 


distinguished Greek rhetoricians of his time. His works, all 
of which have perished, comprised, among many others, 
commentaries on Antipho and Lysias ; several treatises on 
Demosthenes, among which is a dissertation on the genuine 
and spurious speeches, and another comparing that orator 
with Cicero ; " On the Distinction between Athenian and 
Asiatic Eloquence" ; and the work on the Sublime, referred 
to by Longinus (Pauly). The criticism of Longinus on the 
above work may be thus summed up : Caecilius is censured 
(1) as failing to rise to the dignity of his subject ; (2) as 
missing the cardinal points ; and (3) as failing in practical 
utility. He wastes his energy in tedious attempts to define 
the Sublime, but does not tell us how it is to be attained 
(I. i.) He is further blamed for omitting to deal with the 
Pathetic (VIII. i. sqq.) He allows only two metaphors to be 
employed together in the same passage (XXXII. ii.) He 
extols Lysias as a far greater writer than Plato (ib. viii.), 
and is a bitter assailant of Plato's style (ib.) On the whole, 
he seems to have been a cold and uninspired critic, finding 
his chief pleasure in minute verbal details, and incapable of 
rising to an elevated and extensive view of his subject. 

Eratosthenes, a native of Cyrene, born in 275 B.C. ; 
appointed by Ptolemy III. Euergetes as the successor of 
Kallimachus in the post of librarian in the great library of 
Alexandria. He was the teacher of Aristophanes of Byzan- 
tium, and his fame as a man of learning is testified by the 
various fanciful titles which were conferred on him, such as 
"The Pentathlete," "The second Plato," etc. His great 
work was a treatise on geography (Liibker). 

Gorgias of Leontini, according to some authorities a pupil 
of Empedokles, came, when already advanced in years, as 
ambassador from his native city to ask help against Syracuse 
(427 B.c.) Here he attracted notice by a novel style of 
eloquence. Some time after he settled permanently in 


Greece, wandering from city to city, and acquiring wealth 
and fame by practising and teaching rhetoric. We find him 
last in Larissa, where he died at the age of a hundred in 
375 B.C. As a teacher of eloquence Gorgias belongs to what is 
known as the Sicilian school, in which he followed the steps 
of his predecessors, Korax and Tisias. At the time when 
this school arose the Greek ear was still accustomed to the 
rhythm and beat of poetry, and the whole rhetorical, system 
of the Gorgian school (compare the phrases yopyieia cr^^ara, 
yopytd^ecv) is built on a poetical plan (Ltibker, Eeallexikon 
des classischen Alterthums). Hermogenes, as quoted by Jahn, 
appears to classify him among the " hollow pedants " (viro- 
£uA,oi cro </> terra t), " who," he says, "talk of vultures as 
' living tombs,' to which they themselves would best be com- 
mitted, and indulge in many other such frigid conceits." 
(With the metaphor censured by Longinus compare Achilles 
Tatius, III. v. 50, ed. Didot.) See also Plato, Phaeclrus, 267, A. 

Hegesias of Magnesia, rhetorician and historian, contem- 
porary of Timaeus (300 B.C.) He belongs to the period of 
the decline of Greek learning, and Cicero treats him as the 
representative of the decline of taste. His style was harsh 
and broken in character, and a parody on the Old Attic. 
He wrote a life of Alexander the Great, of which Plutarch 
(Alexander, c. 3) gives the following specimen : " On the day 
of Alexander's birth the temple of Artemis in Ephesus was 
burnt down, a coincidence which occasions Hegesias to utter 
a conceit frigid enough to extinguish the conflagration. ' It 
was natural,' he says, 'that the temple should be burnt 
down, as Artemis was engaged with bringing Alexander into 
the world ' " (Pauly, with the references). 

Hbkataeus of Miletus, the logographer ; born in 549 B.C., 
died soon after the battle of Plataea. He was the author of 
two works — (l) Trepio&os yrjs ; and (2) yeverjXoycaL. The 
Periodos deals in two books, first with Europe, then with 


Asia and Libya. The quotation in the text is from his 
genealogies (Liibker). 

Ion of Chios, poet, historian, and philosopher, highly- 
distinguished among his contemporaries, and mentioned by 
Strabo among the celebrated men of the island. He won 
the tragic prize at Athens in 452 b.c, and Aristophanes (Peace, 
421 B.C.) speaks of him as already dead. He was not less 
celebrated as an elegiac poet, and we still possess some 
specimens of his elegies, which are characterised by an 
Anacreontic spirit, a cheerful, joyous tone, and even by a 
certain degree of inspiration. He wrote also Skolia, Hymns, 
and Epigrams, and was a pretty voluminous writer in prose 
(Pauly). Compare the Scholiast on Ar. Peace, 801. 

Kallisthenes of Olynthus, a near relative of Aristotle ; 
born in 360, and educated by the philosopher as fellow-pupil 
with Alexander, afterwards the Great. He subsequently 
visited Athens, where he enjoyed the friendship of Theo- 
phrastus, and devoted himself to history and natural philo- 
sophy. He afterwards accompanied Alexander on his Asiatic 
expedition, but soon became obnoxious to the tyrant on 
account of his independent and manly bearing, which he 
carried even to the extreme of rudeness and arrogance. He 
at last excited the enmity of Alexander to such a degree that 
the latter took the opportunity afforded by the conspiracy of 
Hermolaus, in which Kallisthenes was accused of participat- 
ing, to rid himself of his former school companion, whom he 
caused to be put to death. He was the author of various 
historical and scientific works. Of the latter two are men- 
tioned — (1) On the Nature of the Eye ; (2) On ,the Nature of 
Plants. Among his historical works are mentioned (1) the 
Phocian War (read " Phocicum ' 5 for v. 1. " Troikum " in Cic. 
Epp. ad Div. v. 12); (2) a History of Greece in ten books ; 
(3) ra UtpcriKd, apparently identical with the description of 
Alexander's march, of which we still possess fragments. As 



an historian lie seems to have displayed an undue love of 
recording signs and wonders. Polybius, however (vi. 45), 
classes him among the best historical writers. His style is 
said by Cicero (de Or. ii 14) to approximate to the rhetorical 

Kleitarchus, a contemporary of Alexander, accompanied 
that monarch on his Asiatic expedition, and wrote a history 
of the same in twelve books, which must have included at 
least a short retrospect on the early history of Asia. His 
talents are spoken of in high terms, but his credit as an 
historian is held very light — "probata* ingenium, fides 
infamatur," Quint x. 1, 74. Cicero also (de Leg. i. 2) ranks 
him very low. That his credit as an historian was sacrificed 
to a childish credulity and a foolish love of fable and 
adventure is sufficiently testified by the pretty numerous 
fragments which still remain (Pauly). Demetrius Phalereus, 
quoted by Pearce, quotes a grandiloquent description of the 
wasp taken from Kleitarchus, " feeding on the mountain- 
side, her home the hollow oak." 

Ma.tris, a native of Thebes, author of a panegyric on 
Herakles, whether in verse or prose is uncertain. In one 
passage Athenaeus speaks of him as an Athenian, but this 
must be a mistake. Toup restores a verse from an allusion 
in Diodorus Siculus (i. 24), which, if genuine, would agree 
well with the description given of him by Longinus : 
UpaKkea KaAiecrKei-', on k\£o$ ea^e 8ta tf Hpav (see Toup ad 
Long. III. ii.) 

Philistus of Syracuse, a relative of the elder Dionysius, 
whom he assisted with his wealth in his attack on the liberty 
of that city, and remained with him until 386 B.C., when he 
was banished by the jealous suspicions of the tyrant. He 
retired to Epirus, where he remained until Dionysius's 
death. The younger Dionysius recalled him, wishing to 
employ him in the character of supporter against Dion, By 


his instrumentality it would seem that Dion and Plato were 
banished from Syracuse. He commanded the fleet in the 
straggle between Dion and Dionysius, and lost a battle, 
whereupon he was seized and put to death by the people. 
During his banishment he wrote his historical work, r<x 
SiKcAtKcx, divided into two parts and numbering eleven 
books. The first division embraced the history of Sicily 
from the earliest times down to the capture of Agrigentum 
seven books), and the remaining four books dealt with the 
life of Dionysius the elder. He afterwards added a supple- 
ment in two books, giving an account of the younger Diony- 
sius, which he did not, however, complete. He is described 
as an imitator, though at a great distance, of Thucydides, 
and hence was known as "the little Thucydicles." As an 
historian he is deficient in conscientiousness and candour ; 
he appears as a partisan of Dionysius, and seeks to throw a 
veil over his discreditable actions. Still he belongs to the 
most important of the Greek historians (Liibker). 

Theodorus of Gadara, a rhetorician in the first century 
after Christ ; tutor of Tiberius, first in Rome, afterwards in 
Rhodes, from which town he called himself a Rhodian, and 
where Tiberius during his exile diligently attended his 
instruction. He was the author of various grammatical and 
other works, but his fame chiefly rested on his abilities as a 
teacher, in which capacity he seems to have had great influ- 
ence (Pauly). He was the author of that famous description 
of Tiberius which is given by Suetonius (Tib. 57), ttt^Xos 
ai'fjLaTi 7T€cf>vpafjLevos, "A clod kneaded together with blood." 1 

Theopompus, a native of Chios ; born 380 B.C. He 
came to Athens while still a boy, and studied eloquence under 
Isokrates, who is said, in comparing him with another pupil, 
Ephorus, to have made use of the image which we find in 

1 A remarkable parallel, if not actually an imitation, occurs 
in Goethe's Faust, "Du Spottgeburt von Dreck und Feuer." 


LonginuSj c. ii. " Theopompus," he said, " needs the curb, 
Ephorus the spur" (Suidas, quoted by Jahn ad v.) He 
appeared with applause in various great cities as an advocate, 
but especially distinguished himself in the contest of elo- 
quence instituted by Artemisia at the obsequies of her 
husband Mausolus, where he won the prize. He afterwards 
devoted himself to historical composition. His great work 
was a history of Greece, in which he takes up the thread of 
Thucydides's narrative, and carries it on uninterruptedly in 
twelve books down to the battle of Kniclus, seventeen years 
later. Here he broke off, and began a new work entitled 
The Philippics, in fifty-eight books. This work dealt with 
the history of Greece in the Macedonian period, but was ' 
padded out to a preposterous bulk by all kinds of digressions 
on mythological, historical, or social topics. Only a few 
fragments remain. He earned an ill name among ancient 
critics by the bitterness of his censures, his love of the 
marvellous, and the inordinate length of his digressions. 
His style is by some critics censured as feeble, and extolled 
by others as clear, nervous, and elevated (Lubker and Pauly). 
Timaeus, a native of Tauromenium in Sicily ; born about 
352 B.C. Being driven out of Sicily by Agathokles, he lived 
a retired life for fifty years in Athens, where he composed 
his History. Subsequently he returned to Sicily, and died 
at the age of ninety-six in 256 B.C. His chief work was a 
History of Sicily from the earliest times down to the 129th 
Olympiad. It numbered sixty-eight books, and consisted 
of two principal divisions, whose limits cannot now be 
ascertained. In a separate work he handled the campaigns 
of Pyrrhus, and also wrote Olympionikae, probably dealing 
with chronological matters. Timaeus has been severely 
criticised and harshly condemned by the ancients, especially 
by Polybius, who denies him every faculty required by the 
historical writer (xii. 3-15, 23-28). And though Cicero 


differs from this judgment, yet it may be regarded as certain 
that Timaeus was better qualified for the task of learned 
compilation than for historical research, and held no distin- 
guished place among the historians of Greece. His works 
have perished, only a few fragments remaining (Lubker). 

Zoilus, a Greek rhetorician, native of Amphipolis in 
Macedonia, in the time probably of Ptolemy Philadelphia 
(285-247 B.C.), who is said by Vitruvius to have crucified 
him for his abuse of Homer. He won the name of Homero- 
mastix, "the scourge of Homer," and was also known as 
kvcov pTjToptKos, " the dog of rhetoric," on account of his 
biting sarcasm ; and his name (as in the case of the English 
Dennis) came to be used to signify in general a carping 
and malicious critic. Suidas mentions two works of his, 
written with the object of injuring or destroying the fame of 
Homer — (1) Nine Books against Homer ; and (2) Censures on 
Homer (Pauly). 

[The facts contained in the above short notices are taken 
chiefly from Lubker's Reallexikon des classischen Alt&rthwms, 
and the very copious and elaborate Real - Encyclopadie der 
classischen Alterthumswissenschaft, edited by Pauly. I have 
here to acknowledge the kindness of Dr. WollseifFen, Gym- 
nasialdirektor in Crefeld, in placing at my disposal the library 
of the Crefeld Gymnasium, but for which these biographical 
notes, which were put together at the suggestion of Mr. 
Lang, could not have been compiled. Crefeld, 31st July 


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